“As soon as we control where awareness goes we control where energy flows.
As soon as we control where energy is flowing we control what is manifesting in our life.
And we need willpower and our powers of concentration to direct awareness.”
Dandapani, a Hindu priest, entrepreneur and former monk, is a highly rated speaker at multiple EO chapter learning events where he teaches entrepreneurs how to focus their minds to achieve greater success. In Part 1 of our interview, Dandapani discusses the benefits of a strong ability to focus and how to develop that skill. In Part 2, we asked Dandapani about his struggles as an entrepreneur and new parent and the dangers of having too much drive. Here’s what he shared:
Why is focus your focus?
First, let me clarify that I use the words “focus” and “concentration” interchangeably to convey the same meaning.
Focus is critical for entrepreneurs—for everyone—because it enables us to solve problems. We all face personal, professional and even global challenges. One way to solve them is to be able to concentrate on a problem long enough to find a solution. If you can’t stay focused, how will you ever discover a solution?
I work with entrepreneurs around the world. Productivity and efficiency are always high on their list of goals—but how can you be productive if you can’t focus?
The skill of giving your undivided attention to the person or project at hand is a life-changer. Being able to highly concentrate enables you to be highly efficient.
Entrepreneurs are in the business of solving problems. You need to be able to focus long enough on your product to delve deeply into it. The longer you can stay focused on a concept, problem or idea, the more you can discover about it.
What is your biggest challenge as an entrepreneur?
I am too driven. I need to be able to harness my drive and better manage my energy. Because that’s a topic that I teach, people quite often assume that I am a moral example of energy management. I’ve never claimed that! All I’ve said is that I’ve learned these tools, and I’ll share them with entrepreneurs to help them improve.
You struggle with harnessing your drive?
Yes, of course! If you don’t believe me, I’ll set up an interview with my wife and she’ll tell you all about it.
Why is being extremely driven dangerous to an entrepreneur?
Being extremely driven leads to grander ideas and grander visions. Sometimes that can be positive, but sometimes it’s negative.
Drive consumes energy. You need a lot of energy to get behind a big drive. Where’s that energy coming from? The law of thermodynamics states that energy can neither be created nor destroyed. If I’m going to put a lot of energy into launching an app, for example, that energy comes from my wife, daughter, spiritual practices, friends and activities that I love doing.
If you’re an entrepreneur and you’re extremely driven, it’s a very dangerous thing because you’re taking energy from the people and activities that truly matter and putting it into your business.
We’re all trying to find that ideal, proportionate investment of energy in our lives. I don’t use the word ‘balance’ because that makes us think 50/50, like a scale – and life is not a scale. You’re dividing 100 percent of your energy in some proportion between work, your spouse, kids, pets, friends and hobbies.
How has parenthood affected your proportionate energy division?
I have a 1-year-old daughter. One piece of advice: Never try to launch an app when you’ve just had a baby!
Having a daughter has helped me become more focused than ever. I spend three to four hours with her each day—time that I previously put into my work. As a result, I have to be super critical of how I spend the rest of my energy. I don’t want to waste this time with her. It’s a precious gift – feeding her, playing with her, and taking her for walks. It’s non-negotiable.
It’s made me super clear about how I spend my time, because I have much less time and energy for everything else.
How does your message of focus differ from the mindfulness movement?
It differs a lot. The Oxford dictionary defines mindfulness as “maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis.”
In other words, I can be mindful because I’m present on a moment-to-moment basis. And what’s the requirement for being present on a moment-to-moment basis?
It seems like everyone is teaching mindfulness, but nobody is teaching the precursor to mindfulness: focus.
Here’s the most important takeaway from that: You cannot “practice” mindfulness. Mindfulness is a state that comes as a byproduct of being focused.
So, you don’t practice being mindful. You practice being focused and the byproduct is the state of mindfulness.
That’s a message I want to get across. A lot of people try mindfulness and they never make progress because they’ve missed the first step. Concentration is the first step—everything else comes after it.
Once people understand this, they can really begin to help themselves.
Tell us about your app.
It’s called Unwavering Focus. My wife and I feel that if we can give the gift of unwavering focus to as many people as possible throughout the world—the gift of understanding the mind and being able to concentrate—then they can solve problems in their lives and become better artists, better dancers, better scientists, better businesspeople, have better relationships―and life can improve.
We priced the app very low―it’s US$20―so that as many people as possible around the world can afford it.
It’s for people who are committed to learning how to focus and are willing to do the work. One unique aspect of our app is that after you purchase it, you don’t immediately have access to all of the content. My brain thinks in very structured, systematic processes. I’ve recorded 50 videos across the entire app, but the only way to progress from chapter one to chapter two is to do all of the work entailed in chapter one.
Our whole idea is to educate people who are committed to increasing their ability to focus. We think that’s the key to helping more people worldwide begin to build an improved life.
What’s your life’s purpose?
My primary purpose in life is enlightenment.
My sub-purpose is to impact as many lives as possible with the tools and teachings that I’ve learned as a monk. I spent 10 years of my life as a cloistered, celibate monk. I had no contact with friends or family. If I can share what I learned with people, and make it practical and simple to apply in their lives–that’s one of my big missions.