Focus

Vijay Dukkipati - Ecuador


March 27, 2014

I’m a humongous boulder toppling down a hill; once I gain momentum I am unstoppable. When I am against something, I do not budge. It is both my greatest strength, and my fundamental flaw.

I used to sit and ponder why I was wired in that fashion. Even more so, I used to be angry. In school, I could never focus on things that didn’t interest me. When I had to read an assignment for class, the pages would just blear by, and before I knew it I had read the book, but my recall of its contents was a smudge in my mind.

To alleviate it, I would take copious notes, read out loud, imagine scenarios, but it didn’t matter. I didn’t remember any of it.
School was unbearable. Everything was a struggle. I was a fish out of water, flopping and breathing to survive.

I was still the top fifth in my class, but I wasn’t doing what was right for me. Everybody was far more intelligent and adaptable than I was.

I was depressed at my inadequacy.

And then… somehow… I got into business school. Everything changed. I changed.

Before, I used to walk with my feet turned out, like a duck’s. My dad told me that business men don’t walk like that. He used to bombard me, and I didn’t care, but for some reason, when I got into business school that changed.

Everyday, every single step I took became deliberate practice. At first, it was awkward. Walking down the hall, I would trip over myself. Then, with my eyes wide, I would fall over on the ground. People would look at me weirdly, but I didn’t care.

I would pace in my room to practice. When I walked in the mall, or at wal-mart, I would look at the tiles, and make sure my feet were perfectly aligned with the edges.

It became engrained into my mind until it became a part of my being. It took me six months. I walk straight now.

Then I fixed my handwriting grip. Before, all my fingers dug into the pencil, though this hurt me, nobody could get me to change it. The person who diagnosed me with Asperger’s syndrome said it was dysgraphia, an extension of of what would be my lifelong struggles. But I didn’t care. Her comments and my past stubbornness were trivial. I just focused every day, and every time I wrote, I made a conscious choice to hold the pencil correctly. It took me three months to overcome what I was told could not be overcome.

Then I shifted my focus to my weight. I realized it would be an obstacle if I didn’t change. First I cut my portions. It was difficult, but this wasn’t just a quick fix, this was a lifestyle choice. I lost three pounds. Then, the next month and a half before this program, I went on an Atkins diet, and to the gym five times a week. I lost fifteen more. Then throughout the program, though I didn’t continue with exercise, I became more mindful of what I ate. I lost another eight.

I lost twenty-six pounds in total, and I’m still losing more.

I also worked on my speech patterns. Although it’s still a struggle, I practiced my facial expressions, my hand gestures, and my stream of consciousness in front of the mirror. I’ve gotten pretty good, but it’s something I still need to work on.

Since I have so much free time, I read. I began with a subscription to Business Insider. Then I took a more serious approach and researched the specific industries my school placed the best in. We did quite well in all industries, however only two majors truly interested me- accounting and finance. My dad loves investing, and would talk about it with passion everyday. Though he is a banker by profession, he is an investor first and foremost in his heart. While I found his words and analysis about companies interesting, I wasn’t engaged at the time. But I am now.

I wanted to learn about business, not just the numbers and their meaning, but how everything worked together. Through more research, I found this amazing book called The Personal MBA by Josh Kaufman. It summarized business principles beautifully, and instilled a framework within me, providing the tools to actually understand businesses. I still go over it again and again so I can absorb everything, while also reading the supplemental books he recommended.

Funny enough, through all this work, this became something I enjoy. Although it was exhausting, it was fun. When I focus on something that interests me, nothing stops me. It started off as a goal, inspired by an insatiable desire. Then it became something more. It became my way of life.

I’m a humongous boulder toppling down a hill; once I gain momentum I am unstoppable.

Vijay Dukkipati