The October 2013 shipments of our KnowledgeBOX will be leaving the warehouse in one week! Don’t wait to subscribe and receive a signed copy of Daniel Goleman’s new FOCUS: THE HIDDEN DRIVER OF EXCELLENCE and an Advanced Reader’s Copy of THE HARD THING ABOUT HARD THINGS by Ben Horowitz. Sign up today and you’ll receive 5 hardcover books and 4 advanced reader copies over the year for only $80.
Daniel Goleman’s name is synonymous with the term, Emotional Intelligence, or what is referred to as EQ or EI. In 1995, he presented the idea that I.Q. is not the be-all, end-all assessment of talent and success; rather “non-cognitive skills” also play a big part in who we are and how far we climb. He went on to explore other similar topics such as Ecological Intelligence and Social Intelligence. In other words, he’s a scholar who knows quite a lot about how our minds work beyond our simple “smarts.”
Now Goleman offers us Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence, in which he argues that our ability to attend is another critical aspect of performance.
Though it matters enormously for how we navigate life, attention in all its varieties represents a little-noticed and underrated mental asset. My goal here is to spotlight this elusive and under-appreciated mental faculty in the mind’s operations and its role in living a fulfilling life.
The good news is that we can work to improve our focus. “Attention works much like a muscle–use it poorly and it can wither; work it well and it grows.” Here’s the challenge: our attention is at risk more now than ever before. Goleman first explains how focus helps us learn, then what happens when we interrupt our reading, listening, or tasking by checking our email or our phones. Essentially, we learn better when we are uninterrupted: not a surprise, but the reasons are pretty fascinating.
Goleman gives anyone reading the book a number of ways to better understand and improve how we use our attention, Focus is a leadership book, which sets it apart from a number of other books on focus that have come out in the past year.
He concentrates the majority of the book on why and how leaders must excel at three areas of focus: “For one, there’s self-awareness, which fosters self-management. Then there’s empathy, the basis for skill in relationship.” But beyond ourselves and other people, “outer focus lets us navigate in the larger world” and “grasp the workings of an organization, an economy, or the global processes that support life on this planet.” Goleman’s message is not to put down your iPhone, but to realize that when you pick it up, you disturb a rather delicate process of learning and performing. The more you practice focus, the greater your ability to use it on demand in any of the three areas.