Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence

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In Focus, psychologist and journalist Daniel Goleman delves into the science of attention in all its varieties, presenting a long-overdue discussion of this little-noticed and underrated mental asset that matters enormously for how we navigate life.

Attention works much like a muscle: use it poorly and it can wither; work it well and it grows. In an era of unstoppable distractions, Goleman persuasively argues that now more than ever we must learn to sharpen focus if we are to ...

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Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence

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In Focus, psychologist and journalist Daniel Goleman delves into the science of attention in all its varieties, presenting a long-overdue discussion of this little-noticed and underrated mental asset that matters enormously for how we navigate life.

Attention works much like a muscle: use it poorly and it can wither; work it well and it grows. In an era of unstoppable distractions, Goleman persuasively argues that now more than ever we must learn to sharpen focus if we are to contend with, let alone thrive in, a complex world. Goleman analyzes attention research as a threesome: inner, other, and outer focus. He shows why high-performers need all three kinds of focus, as demonstrated by rich case studies from fields as diverse as competitive sports, education, the arts, and business. Those who excel rely on what Goleman calls smart practice that helps them improve habits, add new skills, and sustain excellence.

Combining cutting-edge research with practical findings, Focus reveals what distinguishes experts from amateurs and stars from average performers.

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  • Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence
    Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence  

Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
Goleman (Leadership: The Power of Emotional Intelligence, 2011, etc.) argues that the ability to focus is "a little-noticed and underrated asset" that can help overcome problems like "zoning out" and "mind wandering," among many others. The author explains that attention span can be compared with a "mental muscle that we can strengthen by a work out," with memorization and concentration being the forms of exercise that work the "muscle." Showing how much time is spent in day-dreaming and mind wandering--up to 40 percent of the day, according to some estimates--Goleman identifies the changes in psychological and mental habits and activities that he believes will contribute to effectively addressing important contemporary issues like climate change and global warming. Quick, default reactions, which focus on the short term and "favor now in decisions of all kinds," prevent concentration on the long-term objectives that such issues demand. Goleman also believes that such a transformation will require new methods of leadership working through new kinds of institutions. The success of future leaders will depend on their ability to maintain focus on long-term goals and improvements for the widest circles their influence can reach. The author supports his arguments with a psychological framework drawn from the contemporary field of neuroscience. He refers to a Nature magazine study on the ambiguous effects of playing computer games--from "Minesweeper" to poker--and stresses that "face-to-face interactions…pick up a multitude of signals which help us connect well, and wire together the neurons involved." Unfortunately, "during thousands of hours spent online," he writes, "the wiring of the social brain gets virtually no exercise." A lively personalized account of the science of attention, which "ripples through most everything we seek to accomplish."
Jon Kabat-Zinn
“Daniel Goleman has surpassed himself in the breadth, depth, and readability ofthis fascinating meditation on what is most important for human, organizational, andplanetary flourishing. Focusshows us how to go about paying attention in all the ways that really matter.”
Tony Schwartz
“I’ve been studying attention for more than a decade, but I learned something new on every page of Focus. It is a powerful guide for taking control of our attention and will lead you to nothing less than taking control of your life.”
Gretchen Rubin
“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.”
Howard Gardner
“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.”
Chip Conley
“Daniel Goleman has written the perfect prescription for today’s deficit of attention in business and life....Highly recommended!”
Financial Times
“Goleman has provided a highly readable manifesto for turning our smartphones off once in a while.”
Library Journal
Psychologist and journalist Goleman, most acclaimed for his book Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ, offers here previously explored psychological findings filtered through a new lens. He highlights the need for focus in our modern, hectic, distracted world as a means toward a better society. Although he quotes no empirical evidence, much of his argument for this reviewer recalls research on the effects of middle age and psychologist Erik Erikson's notion of generativity. (Perhaps Mr. Goleman is middle-aged?) Instead of concentrating on developing and cultivating more relationships, the book emphasizes deepening current ones. Instead of letting ourselves become overwhelmed by possessions and mental clutter, it is suggested that we lighten our load and choose what's important. Instead of working mindlessly, we need to be mindful of our contribution to the world, providing for both our children and others. And in order to do all that and do it well, the author suggests one needs to focus! VERDICT Self-awareness, empathy, and ability to see the bigger picture are all themes investigated by Goleman; this work is recommended for those interested in being a better person and for libraries offering books on psychology and self-help.—Nadine Dalton Speidel, Cuyahoga Cty. P.L., Parma, OH
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780062114860
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 10/8/2013
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 76,134
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Daniel Goleman, a former science journalist for the New York Times, is the author of thirteen books and lectures frequently to professional groups and business audiences and on college campuses. He cofounded the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning at the Yale University Child Studies Center (now at the University of Illinois, at Chicago).

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