Single Pointedness · Part 2

Decide on a thing and do it

Single Pointedness · Part 2
1
2
The attainment of single pointedness requires returning our attention time and time again. In the same spirit, we'll return to our study of the topic itself. We'll start with a quote by the Indian sage, Nisargadatta Maharaj, and then continue with the words of Orison Swett Marden.
> Whatever name you give it: will, or steady purpose, or one-pointedness of mind, you come back to earnestness, sincerity, honesty. When you are in dead earnest, you bend every incident, every second of your life to your purpose...
> You do not waste time and energy on other things. You are totally dedicated, call it will, or love, or plain honesty. We are complex beings, at war within and without. We contradict ourselves all the time, undoing today the work of yesterday. No wonder we are stuck. A little of integrity would make a lot of difference. — Nisargadatta Maharaj
Were I called upon to express in a word the secret of so many failures among those who started out with high hopes, I should say they lacked will-power. They could not half will: and what is a man without a will? He is like an engine without steam. Genius unexecuted is no more genius than a bushel of acorns is a forest of oaks.
The shores of fortune, as Foster says, are covered with the stranded wrecks of men of brilliant ability, but who have wanted courage, faith, and decision, and have therefore perished in sight of more resolute but less capable adventurers, who succeeded in making port.
Is it not possible to classify successes and failures by their various degrees of will-power? A man who can resolve vigorously upon a course of action, and turns neither to the right nor to the left, though a paradise tempt him, who keeps his eyes upon the goal, whatever distracts him, is sure of success.
3
Speak as temptation itself. What paradise can you promise to pull the mind left and right? In this scenario, you are the shoulder devil, the cacodemon, barbed tailed and cloven hoofed. Which defect of this particular mind will you exploit?
In previous lessons, we've seen how obedience contributes to an iron will. Later we'll examine how vigilance does the same. But let's inspect the anatomy of an iron will, which is one part decisiveness and one part follow-through.
"The will in its relation to life," says an English writer, "may be compared at once to the rudder and to the steam engine of a vessel, on the confined and related action of which it depends entirely for the direction of its course and the vigor of its movement."
It is in one of Ben Jonson's old plays: "When I once take the humor of a thing, I am like your tailor's needle—I go through with it."
4
A "tailor's needle" is an uncommon metaphor for will. What can we learn about the nature of will that we wouldn't recognize from a more obvious metaphor like "bulldozer" or "juggernaut"?
This is not different from Richelieu, who said: "When I have once taken a resolution, I go straight to my aim; I overthrow all, I cut down all."
5
History's most accomplished men and women often held the virtue of "resolution" as cardinal. Ben Franklin kept the precept: "resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve." The Rothschild's precept is nearly identical: "do without fail that which you determine to do."
YC President Michael Seibel explains what sets apart the greatest founders: > When I [meet] with a great founder, and they say they're going to do something, two weeks later they’ve done it. It doesn’t mean they're correct, it doesn’t mean they'll continue in that direction… but they never say 'oh we couldn’t do it or we did something else instead.' They figure out a way to get some version of it done and then learn from it.
This point is key. You must commit to big actions one week at a time. And in that time, should you encounter a "better" idea, you must leave it for the future. Once committed, you must follow through. William Gladstone taught his children to "accomplish to the end whatever they might begin, no matter how insignificant."
It is irresolution that is worse than rashness. Irresolution is like an ague; it shakes not this nor that limb, but all the body is at once in a fit."
The man who is forever twisting and turning, backing and filling, hesitating and dawdling, shuffling and parleying, weighing and balancing, splitting hairs over non-essentials, listening to every new motive which presents itself, will never accomplish anything.
But the positive man, the decided man, is a power in the world, and stands for something; you can measure him, and estimate the work that his energy will accomplish.

Story From

Orison Swett Marden Collection