Focus Book Summary By Daniel Goleman

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Focus (2013) is an insightful book that takes a deep dive into the world of attention and how to sharpen one's focus.

Authored by Daniel Goleman, this book is based on cutting-edge research which reveals that having a focused mind in this day and age of limitless distractions is essential for success, both professional and personal.

What makes it special is that its definition of "focus" extends beyond just being able to concentrate and encourages mindfulness of the self, others, and the environment as well.

In short, those looking for ways to cultivate more meaningful relationships with themselves, others, and the world around them could certainly benefit from checking out Focus (2013).

Focus Book

Book Name: Focus (The Hidden Driver of Excellence)

Author(s): Daniel Goleman

Rating: 4.3/5

Reading Time: 26 Minutes

Categories: Mindfulness & Happiness

Author Bio

Daniel Goleman is an internationally known psychologist and New York Times best-selling author who has written 13 books, including the highly successful work, Emotional Intelligence.

His lectures are sought after by professionals and students alike around the world for his unique insights into self-improvement, enhanced productivity and improved focus.

Goleman's book, Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence is an informative look at personal efficiency in life and work from a psychological standpoint.

He has synthesized both scientific research and anecdotal evidence to help guide people to achieve their personal best through efficient use of their attention, concentration and focus.

Gain More Focus And A Richer Life With Daniel Goleman’s Guide To Attention Management

Daniel Goleman'S

Focus is something that we all need in order to achieve both short and long term success.

But what is there in it for me? With Focus, you can become more productive, accomplished, and fulfilled.

In Focus, author Daniel Goleman provides us with a guidebook for living a focused life which includes not just thought focus but also “mindfulness”, “positive thinking” and taking time for sincere preparation.

He’s compiled countless examples of how letting your mind wander can be both helpful and hinderous on the pursuit of our goals.

The book also shares the important quality great leaders have: self-awareness or empathy, instead of keeping their eyes on the prize at all times.

Additionally, you’ll learn how to train your willpower like a muscle, so that when doing something you love it becomes easier to see it through to completion.

Finally, you’ll find out why having a positive attitude makes such an impact during stressful times when critical thinking isn’t possible.

So if you’re looking to hone in on your focus skills, consider reading Focus and reap its many benefits.

We Need Strong Selective Attention To Improve Our Performance And Aid Reflection In A Distracting World

In a world of endless distractions, attention is key to achieving high performance.

If you want to get things done and reach your goals, you need to be able to focus and stay productive in an environment full of noise and other distractions.

Our selective attention – our ability to choose what we pay attention to – determines how well we can ignore potential disruptions and remain focused on the task at hand.

Journalists at the New York Times know this better than anyone, managing to work even with all the hustle and bustle of their open-plan office.

For many others though, it’s harder; daydreaming or being too easily bored takes away from valuable time that could be devoted to meaningful work.

That’s why it’s essential that we develop our selective attention skills: aside from increasing productivity levels, it also allows us to dive into any subject without losing focus and prevents us from succumbing to internet addiction.

Attention is therefore fundamental if you want to achieve high performance in a world filled with distracting stimuli.

The Power Of Focused Attention: How Our Minds Can Help Us Make Better Choices And Learn New Skills

Life can sometimes feel like being “on automatic” when we are constantly preoccupied with our thoughts and lose awareness of what’s going on around us.

This is mainly due to the push-pull process between the bottom-up and top-down minds in our brain.

The bottom-up mind takes over when we allow our emotions and impulses to guide us through the day, while the top-down mind helps us plan ahead but requires a lot of effort and concentration.

The consequence of not actively paying attention to our environment is that we can easily lose focus and miss out on what’s right there in front of us.

An example is one psychologist who witnessed people ‘zoned out’ while waiting in a line for a photocopier at his office, that they would let someone jump ahead to use it without objection or question.

This same phenomenon also applies to activities where we are trying to improve skills or mastering tasks – such as golfing or playing an instrument – where progress wouldn’t come from mindless repetition but from consciously using both the bottom-up mind and top-down brain together.

We must actively reflect on how these two sides affect each other so that we can hone our talents and perform better every time.

By paying attention to life in the present moment instead living “on automatic”, we gain improved perspectives, increased insights, greater appreciation for what lies before us, more focused work output as well as enhanced enjoyment of experiences.

The Benefits Of Open Awareness: Why Mind-Wandering And Serendipitous Insights Matter

Open Awareness

Focus Book Summary tells us that all types of attention can be valuable, not just narrow focus or goal-oriented attention.

Open awareness or mind-wandering is often more effective and allows for serendipitous insights, potentially leading to creative breakthroughs.

These moments are extremely valuable as they allow us to access those “flash of insight” needed for creative, original thinking and wordplay.

People who specialize in tasks requiring an intense focus may find it harder to loosen up enough to generate these insights, but with techniques like taking a walk or sunbathing, it can be done.

Allowing one’s mind and attitude to be open makes them receptive to new ideas and it is invaluable when trying to imagine future scenarios, do self-reflection and store memories.

In fact, in one experiment participants who allowed their minds to wander were able to come up with 40% more imaginative solutions than those who didn’t.

Freestyle rappers, people with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and others who display an open state of mind show heightened activity in their brains’ circuitry which lets them make new connections between distant areas of their brains.

The Power Of Will: How We Can Harness Strong Self-Control To Achieve Success

Focus Book Summary explains that developing your willpower is essential if you want to accomplish your goals and live a successful life.

The book shares the findings of an experiment conducted on 1,000 children to determine their capacity for stronger self-control and willpower.

The results showed that those with higher levels of willpower were more likely to be successful two decades later.

But it’s not just about being born with strong willpower – it can also be developed throughout childhood and even adult years.

The best way to build your strength of will is to do what you love, as when you resonate with activities that reflect your values, the effort doesn’t seem as great.

An inspiring example given in the book is George Lucas and how he became determined to make the movie Star Wars true to his vision, investing a lot of money into it.

So if you want to achieve “inner focus”, maximizing your opportunities and mastering both successes and failures along the way, then Focus Book Summary suggests that you need to focus on improving your willpower – it’s one of the key factors!

The Importance Of Striking The Right Balance Between Cognitive And Emotional Empathy For Fulfilling Interactions With Others

When it comes to having successful interactions with other people, having empathy is essential.

That’s why it’s important to cultivate and develop empathy at every turn – both cognitive and emotional.

Cognitive empathy helps you to understand how people think and perceive the world, while emotional empathy enables you to feel what they are feeling.

This can even be a physical sensation, as shown in one study where subjects’ brain scans showed that they were actually feeling what their fellow test subjects were feeling.

On top of that, being empathic towards others also allows us to become more sympathetic and understanding of their point of view – thus deepening our connection and relationship with them.

Doctors, for example, need to find a balance between expressing genuine concern for their patients without breaking down in tears – which can be difficult but can also be beneficial for all parties involved.

Ultimately, it pays off in the long run by allowing us to approach any social context with a deeper understanding of human emotions and behaviour.

So make sure you focus on building your empathy – it will help you navigate within any social context!

We Must Consider The Broader Context When Addressing Problems To Ensure A Better Future

Better Future

Outer focus is all about paying attention to the larger context and realizing that our actions can have both a short and long-term impact.

People tend to naturally focus on the present, but this results in us neglecting more distant and global problems that may have significant implications for our future.

For example, climate change is too far off for most of us to think about, yet ignoring it now could mean dangerous consequences for our planet in the long run.

Similarly, traffic jams are usually solved by building more highways which just exacerbates the problem by providing more capacity for additional vehicles.

That’s why we need to shift our focus from addressing only immediate problems and instead consider the wider context of any given issue if we want to achieve long-term solutions and preserve resources like clean air and water for future generations.

Thinking this way allows us to manage our personal impact on both an individual-level as well as a global one.

The Key To Successful Leadership: Self-Awareness And A Visionary Focus

It’s no secret that great leadership is critical for a successful organization and that in order to lead successfully, one must be able to focus and direct their attention and the attention of their team correctly.

If a leader fails to do this and narrows their focus too much on the “prize” they can often create a toxic atmosphere as they’re unaware of how they’re impacting those around them.

On the other hand, consider a leader who pays close attention to her team, providing encouragement and understanding even when employees may not perform tasks as well as expected.

Such leaders possess self-awareness – that knowledge of their own strengths and weaknesses allows them to assign tasks accordingly and form teams with complementary specialties.

They understand their role in leading the vision but trust others enough to leave some aspects up to them.

Furthermore, having an inspiring vision or goal is critical in effectively getting everyone onboard an undertaking.

A vision should be clear so it can easily be understood by all stakeholders and projects confidence that it’s achievable.

For example, Isaac Singer was able to convince people of his idea –that housewives could master electric sewing machines – after seeing it through his own eyes.

By making such products available with credit options, he also reduced financial concerns most women may have had over investing in such new contraptions.

Without capturing the attention of prospective buyers with such mechanisms Singer may not have achieved success in bringing his radical idea into reality.

All these instances demonstrate how great leadership hinges on effectively capturing and directing the attention of a collective-that there’s more than just personal ability involved when being an effective leader.

Inspiring Leaders Recognize The Impact They Have On Others And Value Those Around Them

Inspiring leaders recognize the value in those around them and look beyond their own comfort to help others realize their potential.

This is exemplified by Ben & Jerry’s sourcing of chocolate fudge brownies from Greyston Bakery in the Bronx as part of their recipe.

Not only does this create an all-around healthier product, but it also serves an important purpose for the local community by giving people with a difficult time finding work an opportunity to thrive, hence their motto “We don’t hire people to bake brownies – We bake brownies to hire people!”

On the other hand, unempathic leaders are unable to comprehend the effect they have on others.

For instance, when presenting his opinion following a major oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, BP CEO Tony Hayward instead of showing actual concern for those affected declared “there is no one who wants this thing over more than I do.

I’d like my life back.” This blatantly ignored how his words and actions might be perceived and generated huge hostility towards himself and his company as a result.

It’s clear that great leadership involves an understanding of one’s own impact on others and the ability to anticipate reactions accordingly.

Inspired leaders possess this insight and are devoted to helping those around them become successful go-getters, making not just themselves better but also everyone around them too!

Leaders Must Have A Forward-Thinking Focus To Avoid Being Overtaken By The Competition


Successful leaders understand the importance of not simply looking at their existing products and services but also on the context in which they operate.

In doing this, these leaders recognize opportunities for growth in the market – or identify anything that threatens their success – and develop strategies to manage that accordingly.

For example, Steve Jobs saw that Apple was too heavily invested in a myriad of products and so he decided that the company should focus on just four computers – two desktops and two laptops – each one made for either consumer or professional markets.

His decision went on to revolutionize Apple’s success and saved them from certain peril.

On the other hand, unadventurous leaders with a rigid focus on exploiting current products and technologies can quickly become victims of their own narrow vision.

BlackBerry is an example of this; by not looking beyond its current capabilities and instead concentrating only on developing the long battery life of its product it failed to keep up with the growing popularity of touchscreens among its customers.

By 2010 it had lost 75 percent of its share value as result.

It’s clear that having awareness of one’s working environment can be incredibly beneficial.

Keeping an eye out for new opportunities or potential threats is an essential part of successful leadership, as it allows companies to stay ahead of competition or any external changes in context.

Developing Attention And Meta-Awareness: Exercise Your Mental Muscle For Stressful Sitautions

Meditation can be a great way to help you focus on one thing and keep track of your attention span.

When you practice one-pointed focus meditation, the goal is to completely focus on one thing, such as your breathing.

As you do this, you’ll notice that after a while your mind will begin to wander – but that’s OK!

Just be aware of when it starts to stray from the object of focus and refocus your attention on it again.

The more repetitions you perform, the stronger this mental muscle gets.

This is known as meta-awareness and it helps us recognize when our minds have drifted away from what’s important.

Practicing meditation assists with this kind of awareness and allows us to control our focus better when under stress or during situations where we need laser-like concentration.

So next time you’re distracted by something small, use meta-awareness to become aware of it and refocus yourself back on the task at hand.

The Power Of Positive Thinking: How A Cheerful Disposition Can Help Us Overcome Big Challenges

Positive Thinking

Think happy thoughts: positive thinking is vital for sustaining motivation and achieving goals.

That’s because having a positive outlook helps to boost motivation levels.

Research has shown that the left prefrontal area of the brain, which contains the “reward circuitry” and is rich with dopamine, is particularly active when we’re in a good mood.

As we work towards our goals, this part of the brain serves as a reminder of how great it will feel once we actually succeed.

Additionally, being in this positivity frame of mind can just make big tasks seem much easier to tackle in the first place, allowing us to focus on the possible new experiences that this goal might bring rather than getting scared off by potential setbacks and competition.

When you’re inspired by achievement or driven by fulfillment it really allows us to step into any challenge and find solutions instead of wallowing in worries.

So whether your goal is moving countries for an adventure or starting a business plan for success down the line – try to focus on all the positives that come with that dream today and you’ll be ready tomorrow!

Wrap Up

The Focus Book offers an insightful analysis into how focusing our attention can have a great impact on how successful we become.

It emphasizes the importance of not only focusing our attention internally, but also externally, such as towards others and the wider environment.

It also provides valuable advice on how to maintain and recover focus like a muscle exercise needs rest – by switching to bottom-up control, allowing the mind to wander, and making future problems more concrete.

All in all, this book gives us great tips on how to stay focused and develop a healthier approach to life that is beneficial for both ourselves and those around us.

With this synthesis of ideas combined with actionable advice that we can implement into our own lives, readers will gain valuable insight from this book!

Arturo Miller

Hi, I am Arturo Miller, the Chief Editor of this blog. I'm a passionate reader, learner and blogger. Motivated by the desire to help others reach their fullest potential, I draw from my own experiences and insights to curate blogs.

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