Stacy’s Book Note: Focus

Daniel Goleman presents ideas about focus, emotions, and performance in his book, Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence (available on my Bookshop and Amazon*), Given that he is probably better known for being the author of Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ it isn’t surprising that his book on focus also delves into emotions.

In the book, he describes three kinds of focus:

“Inner focus attunes us to our intuitions, guiding values, and better decisions. Other focus smooths our connections to the people in our lives. And outer focus lets us navigate in the larger world.” 

He argues that in this day and age, when distractions are on the rise, it is critical to develop all these three types of focus.

Interestingly, what I found most interesting was not his main ideas but perhaps a sub-theme that ran throughout his book: the interplay of focus, emotions, and performance.

Main take-away for talented and caring women:

Dr. Goleman says there are two types of distractions: sensory and emotional. Not surprisingly, “the biggest challenge for even the most focused…comes from the emotional turmoil of our lives.” And, we all know that “the more our focus gets disrupted, the worse we do.”

So, what can we do if we find ourselves distracted with a worry? I’ve found that ruminating is a major distractor in my life and in the lives of a lot of talented and caring women. Dr. Goleman suggests making some sort of temporary decision, leading me to my…

Favorite Quote #1:

“The dividing line between fruitless rumination and productive reflection lies in whether or not we come up with some tentative solution or insight and then can let those distressing thoughts go—or if, on the other hand, we just keep obsessing over the same loop of  worry.”

Main take-away for parents and managers:

Most of us have heard of the “10,000-hour rule,” that it requires 10,000 hours of practice to achieve success/mastery. Dr. Goleman clarifies this misunderstood rule. If you compare “experts” to “amateurs,” one key difference is that experts go beyond mere repetition; they are constantly tweaking their practice. He also notes other important elements for mastery:

  • An expert guide or coach who can push and tweak your practice
  • A well-designed training that takes place over months or years time
  • Your full concentration during practice (This explains why my workouts while watching Netflix are not very effective!)
  • Positive emotions

Favorite Quote #2:

“Whether we’re trying to hone a skill in sports or music, enhance our memory power, or listen better, the core elements of smart practice are the same: ideally, a potent combination of joy, smart tactics, and full focus.”

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