A reminder before one smashes his dreams

By Lucell Larawan

I find this intriguing story from the U.S. News & World Report dated June 26, 1995:

“On paper, Michael Hillis was a sound enough pilot. When things went wrong, though, the 29-year-old captain tensed up. For that reason, Hillis had been asked to leave Cincinnati-based Comair, but he caught on quickly with American Eagle, and was at the controls of Flight 3379 as it descended toward the airport in Raleigh, N.C. At exactly 30 seconds after 6:33 p.m., two minutes and 4 miles from the airport, a panel light in the cockpit lit up. Hillis and his co-pilot, Matthew Sailor, had been trained to recognize the light as a signal that an engine had quit. Quickly, they set about determining which one. In doing so, however, they forgot about flying the plane. At 1,400 feet, the Jetstream 32 began to drop fast. Hillis and Sailor reacted immediately. It was too late. The plane smashed into the woods, and 15 of the 20 people aboard died, including Hillis and Sailor. Investigators pawing through the rubble came to a surprising conclusion: Neither of the plane’s engines had failed at all. Most likely, the light was faulty.”

This tragedy reminds me of the common problem that bedevils many people these days: their excessive engagement with mobile phones. They want to know what is trending or how many likes they got from their latest selfie post, then try to figure out the best lines to muzzle their bashers and converse with those who comment on their struggling looks. Some of them cannot miss a frequent visit to dancing cats videos or a cussing poem contest online. They did not realize that marketers are fighting for their attention.

As a result, they forget what could have made them more distinctions in their respective fields. They cannot finish a product evaluation. They cannot write important memos on time. Their writing still sucks even after finishing writing courses. Students forget their school assignments. Average or less describes their value in the workplace or the market. Less than satisfactory is the rating of university projects for the enticed gullible students.

Some even go into extremes—they put their mobile phones beside the bed to interrupt their sleep with internet browsing in the middle of the night. This habit steals their health and general well-being. And they do not do anything about it.

Unless we realize that such enticements call us to jump off the cliff, we smash our dreams into the woods just like the pilots. We can be like another tragedy: a woman fell off and died because of a selfie. Realizing the folly of giving in to our contemporary distractions, how about another route?

You need to develop more focus. Focusing is not just a luxury in the information age. It is an important characteristic to make a Bruce Lee or a Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. It is a must to make a Warren Buffet.

“Excellence is what describes an average man with laser-like focus”, avers Bruce Lee. How true. The statement truly embodies him.

From the internet, I found Bruce Lee’s Training Diary for the month of January in 1968:


18600: Punches Thrown

15: kicking & Flexibility Sessions

121: Sets of situps

12: sessions of hitting the speed bag and heavy bag

128: sets of side bends

21: Isometric forearm workouts

129: sets of leg raises

19: isometric squat & stance workouts

9.8 hours of road work running/sprinting

5100: Finger jabs


Not included on this list are several additional sessions of mentoring, weight training, calisthenics and sparing.


For those who did not know, Bruce Lee was so focused on developing his prowess—what made his one-inch punch threw off even a judo champion. Lee can play ping-pong using a nunchako. He earned the legend.

If you hear about the work ethic of Dwayne Johnson, he wakes up at four in the morning to start banging and clanging in the gym while everyone is still asleep. If he merely seeks comfort, he would not go that far. Obviously, he is a superbly muscular and funny guy with great fighting skills—earning him many blockbuster films.

What about Warren Buffet—the investment genius? I saw Buffet’s videos where he often mentions the number of books he reads. He can devour a book in just two days. He spends most of his time reading. His smartness with investments comes from his thirst for knowledge.

From these exemplars, we learn that only those who have above average focus has the right to become winning businessmen, athletes, employees and students.

The takeaway: if we want success in our business, workplace or school, we need to throw away distractions and start to develop laser focus.