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Customer Review

40 of 52 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Focus was Hocus Pocus, August 29, 2013
This review is from: Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence (Hardcover)
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I found Daniel Goleman's text "Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence" to be nothing short of Hocus Pocus, long on promises but selling us short with a bait and switch. Allow me to explain myself.

First, to give credit where credit is due, this book does have a logical format introduced early, and the text sticks to the overall game plan. If the devil is in the details, then let's begin with the 3 types of Focus that Goleman identifies (and which become the format of the book). First there is an inner focus. Then, some supposed kind of empathetic focus of "the other" and their feelings. Lastly there is "the other" again, but this time the focus is on systems.

Every kind of focus is given a two edged sword. First, if we are too keenly aware of what we are feeling, then we are not aware of what we might best be focusing on--say outer focus. There's a battle between outer and inner focus at all times. The author doesn't label it as such; we are just to go along with the author's assumption that emotional distractions are bad when he says so and good when he says so. UNLESS, we are striving for creativity! Then, we need to let go of focus in order for true creativity to occur. Later on in the book, we are told that if we are in a creative mindset, say during a meeting, one must bang a gong and get the participants back onto the perceptual level of focusing on the task at hand. Yet, if one were a subordinate, and the boss was right on target but droning on about corporate strategy and said boss catches us wandering off and calls us on it, we soon learn that it is the boss who is in error because he can't empathize with our inability to keep up. Or wait, maybe the boss is right to maintain vigilance to the topic being discussed, but what if one is feeling creative at that moment based upon what the boss might be saying about corporate strategy and product placement. On and on the book goes like this in a confused state because the fundamentals are flawed.

What really makes this book on focus a true hocus pocus is the tawdry and unrelenting insertions of PC nonsense. The main culprit: global warming. You may ask how global warming can take such a center stage in a book on focus. That's what I did, and I didn't like the answer. True focus is the ability to see that global warming is real. The author then describes how evolutionarily we are not equipped to deal with large abstract problems like global warming, only immediate tangible problems. On and on the prattle continues.

Let's take a moment and discuss pandering and self plagiarism. The only reason that the second kind of focus, empathy, is included --or even labeled as focus even, becomes painfully obvious when we remember that Goleman wrote a best seller on emotional intelligence. Just a sorry bait and switch to harangue and dawdle using past research in a totally different topic. Shameless yet accepted, I suppose.

Oh, want to see what the author describes as the ideal and happy Leader, the one who has mastered Focus as his Hidden Driver of Excellence? I'll give it as the author does: by describing two case studies, the loser and the master. The loser is one who works in an engineering firm doing construction. He climbs successfully up the chain of command. When asked what vision should guide his company, he firmly resolves to "being better than our competition." This man is out of focus and is evil! He wants money, and he wants to succeed, and he wants to exercise his leadership ability, and he wants to defeat his competition so the consumer can get better products for less: BAD!

Now, Goleman's hero directs a nonprofit corporation that offers health services, not to all of the needy in the community, oh no, only to the Hispanic community (he discriminates against other cultures and races). His vision statement is not to provide better and cheaper products like the evil and greedy profit hungry engineer with an advanced degree and years of study. Oh no! Our in focus leader's vision is to "create a good environment" for the community which has been "nurturing" the company and who benefited the nonprofit in its "profit sharing" endeavors.

Of course, the employees of out of focus leader #1 finds their boss non empathetic. Hell, the neighbor might even curse the fact that the engineer won't allow his wife to share her spoils too! Get the point. I did early, and I find this kind of garbage insulting and injurious to any mind seeking wisdom from this Hocus Pocus author. Disgusting.

The text drones on and on like this. The best parts of the book, on Flow and The Zone, are covered better, much better, elsewhere.

Needless to say that I found this text to be a huge waste of time. If this kind of PC fraud floats the fluff on your caramel latte, then this text is your cup of tea. Drink it in at your peril, as you have been forewarned. If your a serious thinker who really wants to learn about Focus, how best to maintain it, how to make it work for you, and how to master it for success in life, you simply must look elsewhere. The jargon doesn't compensate for the lack of any real substance other than PC pandering.

If you find such a book, drop me a line in the comment section!

Good luck,
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Oct 5, 2013 3:24:25 AM PDT
Curious if you can be specific about where Flow and the Zone have been covered in better ways; am interested in those topics.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 6, 2013 12:08:38 AM PDT
TR says:
Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience (Harper Perennial Modern Classics)

Finding Your Zone: Ten Core Lessons for Achieving Peak Performance in Sports and Life
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