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Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence Hardcover – October 8, 2013
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“Daniel Goleman has surpassed himself in the breadth, depth, and readability of this fascinating meditation on what is most important for human, organizational, and planetary flourishing. Focusshows us how to go about paying attention in all the ways that really matter.” -- John Kabat-Zinn, founder of Mindfulness-Based Stress-Reduction and author of Mindfulness for Beginners
“Attention is so important that ordinary people take it for granted, while scientists subject it to microanalysis. Steering deftly between these extremes, Dan Goleman synthesizes what is known and what we need to know.” -- Howard Gardner, John H. and Elisabeth A. Hobbs Professor of Cognition and Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education Howard Garnder, John H. and Elizabeth A. Hobbs Professor of Cognition and Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education
“With compelling insights, wide-ranging examples, and cutting-edge science, Daniel Goleman makes the convincing case that the ability to focus is a key to excellence, in both our personal and professional lives-and also explains how to boost that focus.” -- Gretchen Rubin, bestselling author of The Happiness Project
“Daniel Goleman has written the perfect prescription for today’s deficit of attention in business and life....Highly recommended!” -- Chip Conley, founder of Joie de Vivre Hospitality and author of Peak and Emotional Equations
“Goleman has provided a highly readable manifesto for turning our smartphones off once in a while.” -- Financial Times
- Publisher : Harper; American First edition (October 8, 2013)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 320 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0062114867
- ISBN-13 : 978-0062114860
- Item Weight : 1.03 pounds
- Dimensions : 1.1 x 5.2 x 7.9 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #233,343 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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It was author, Daniel Goleman, who popularised the notion of emotional intelligence. “My goal here,” he writes, “is to spotlight this elusive and under-appreciated mental faculty in the mind’s operations and its role in living a fulfilling life.”
To enjoy a “fulfilling life,” requires a three-part focusing ability: inner, other, and outer focus. Much like a muscle, focus improves as we deliberately use it more and weakens without conscious use.
“Inner focus” makes us aware of our intuitions, our guiding values, and assists in making better decisions. “Other focus” aids in our interpersonal relations. “Outer focus” is necessary for navigating our way in the larger world in which we operate.
It is not that we are paying less attention these days; it is that the attention we pay is decidedly different.
Goleman observed a mother and her daughter on a ferry to an island vacation. “The little girl’s head came only up to her mother’s waist as she hugged her mom and held on fiercely… The mother, though, didn’t respond to her, or even seem to notice: she was absorbed in her iPad all the while.”
The mother’s indifference is a symptom of how technology captures our attention and interferes with our connection.
An eighth-grade teacher told Goleman that she has observed a decline in her pupil’s ability to read. “She wonders if perhaps her students’ ability to read has been somehow compromised by the short, choppy messages they get in texts.”
The distracting effects of technology has led to a number of companies in Silicon Valley (the home of technology!) to ban laptops, mobile phones, and other digital tools during meetings.
An executive coach, Tony Schwartz, who helps leaders manage their energy, told Goleman, “We get people to become more aware of how they use attention— which is always poorly. Attention is now the number-one issue on the minds of our clients.”
Decades ago, Nobel-winning economist Herbert Simon presciently warned of the implications of the coming information-rich world. He warned, “A wealth of information creates a poverty of attention.”
There are two main types of distractions: sensory and emotional. The sensory distractors are easier to deal with, the more daunting distractions are the emotionally loaded issues. Such thoughts intrude in for a good reason: to have us think through what to do about what is upsetting us.
Too often, the intrusions are unresolved and so the distressing thoughts recur in the same loop of worry.
Focus, or attention, works at many levels. “What’s trending now” is a signal of how we are allotting our collective attention. Workplace surveys show where employees are spending most of their attention. Large numbers are daydreaming, wasting hours cruising the Web or YouTube, and doing the bare minimum required.
“To get the disengaged workers any nearer the focused range demands upping their motivation and enthusiasm, evoking a sense of purpose, and adding a dollop of pressure,’ Goleman suggests.
Life today is enmeshed in the digital distractions that create a near-constant cognitive overload. Overload wears out our self-control. Lost in the digital world we forget our resolve to diet and mindlessly reach for the Pringles, or forget the names of people we know well.
It is easy to assume that attention needs be in the service of solving problems or achieving goals. However, our best ideas often come from the mind’s tendency to drift. Focused, goal-driven attention does not have more value than open, spontaneous awareness. Our minds will wander towards our current personal concerns and unresolved business, matters that do require our attention.
At the corporate level “Directing attention toward where it needs to go is a primal task of leadership,” Goleman asserts.
The leader’s task is to capture and direct the collective attention of staff. This requires, firstly that leaders focus their own attention, and only then attract and direct the attention from others. The requirement for the leader to have clarity of focus is largely because the attention of staff is guided by what leaders attend to – whether they explicitly articulate it or not.
Organizations, as with individuals, have a limited capacity for attention. Organizations have to choose where to allocate attention, what they will focus on, and what they will ignore.
“Signs of what might be called organizational “attention deficit disorder” include making flawed decisions because of missing data, no time for reflection, trouble getting attention in the marketplace, and inability to focus when and where it matters,” Goleman observes.
In order to focus an organization, the leader must simplify the complexity. This is never a simple matter. Steve Jobs’s dictum that Apple products should allow a user to do anything in three clicks or fewer, demanded a deep understanding of the function of the commands and buttons being given up, and finding elegant alternatives.
Focus at the strategic level is no different. It too demands a deep understanding of what can be overlooked and of the alternatives.
This issue of individual ability to focus and well as our corporate ability to focus is too urgent to ignore. This book is a excellent place to start.
Readability Light ---+- Serious
Insights High +_--- Low
Practical High --+-- Low
Ian Mann of Gateways consults internationally on leadership and strategy
The opening chapters contained the rudiments of correlation to brain areas such as the effects of the amygdala, hypo campus and insula. Having studied these brain regions and the common best understanding, I conclude that he offered facile connections that were unjustified by the current state of the science.
Then, looking at the author's list of books, I came to the personal conclusion that the amount of padding in this book was secondary to an author having used up the stronger material he has and now he is moving to weaker, less well developed ideas that are really not justified.