One of my key strengths is ‘Focus’ and while waiting at Berlin airport for my flight to Frankfurt I saw Daniel Goleman’s latest book on the bookshelf. I always work to improve my strengths and therefore I thought the €15 ticket price would make an excellent investment.
Goleman describes the three forms of Focus; Inner focus, attunes us to our intuitions, guiding values and better decisions. Other Focus, which smooths our connections to the people in our lives. And Outer Focus that allows us to navigate in the larger world. He describes that our time is limited and our attention is constantly under siege. A wealth of information is producing a poverty of attention and reducing our focus on the key objectives we have set for our day. A life immersed in digital and visual distractions creates a near constant cognitive overload. And that overload, Goleman argues, wears out our self-control.
The writer presents an excellent study of human behavior, focus and success and is well worth reading. I found that Goleman did not take the final step to explain how we can improve our focus in order to improve our success. In this review I have taken some highlights from the book and added my key Takeaways to help me improve my personal focus.
One key to achieving focus and therefore flow in our lives comes when we align what we do with what we enjoy. High achievers in any field have found the correct combination. Takeaway – I have written down what I love about my work and tried to focus more on these things. At home, I also try and spend time with what I enjoy.
To get disengaged workers nearer to the optimum range of focus requires increasing their motivation and enthusiasm, evoking a sense of purpose and applying the correct amount of pressure. Takeaway – I should explain the overall vision, goals and objectives to my team. Then I should apply a little time pressure to realise the goals.
If you are trying to reach excellence in any field, then all things being equal, your differentiating factor is how clearly you focus. You can lose everything else but above all things never lose your focus on your objectives and goals. Takeaway – My annual objectives for work are printed and placed at the back of my diary. I refer to them every two weeks to ensure I stay aligned to business goals.
Focus is your reality and what you focus on will expand. Tie in an emotion to your goals and objectives, the stronger the emotion the easier it is to focus. Takeaway – My personal goals have strong emotions tethered to them. I feel the emotion of not achieving the goal and this brings renewed focus.
Your ability to notice when you are anxious and to take steps to renew your focus rests on self-awareness. Such meta cognition lets us keep our mind in the state best suited for the task at hand. Takeaway – If I feel a negative emotion, I stop and ask, Why? I take time during the day to assess my feelings, I start with happy, sad or mad and then fine-tune the emotions and my associations with them.
Willpower is the single biggest factor for ensuring success. Willpower keeps us focused on our goals despite the tug of our impulses, passions, habits and cravings. Willpower emerges as a stronger predictor of financial success than our IQ or social class. Takeaway – The strong emotions and regular review of my annual objectives improves my willpower muscle.
The brain learns and remembers best when focus is at its greatest, when we are relaxed and not anxious, when we are not pressed for time. Takeaway – If I have to learn something new, I schedule time in my day to review. I turn off distractions, close my door and focus on the task.
Stories do more than grab our attention, they keep our attention. Takeaway – The next time I have to make a presentation, I will use a relevant story to capture the audience’s attention.
Knowing what not to focus on is also as important as knowing what you will focus on. Takeaway – I leave the details to my team, I empower them to solve the daily problems and only get involved to discuss long-term goals, objectives and strategy.
These are my takeaways from the book. I am sure if you take the time to read you will have many takeaways of your own.