Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence – Daniel Goleman

People believe that money is one of life’s most precious resource. I, however, would argue that it’s time and energy (and the ability to focus). Money can always be made and remade, time and energy on the other hand is and always be finite. The amount of focus/concentration is one of life’s most precious resource as you have a finite amount of it everyday. In today’s world where computers, smartphones, tablets, and everything else with a digital screen, has the capability to easily draw your attention towards it, don’t waste away your attention frivolously. The points taken away from this book are:


1. The amount of information that we can store in our head at a given moment on a temporary basis is very limited. On a daily basis my ideas and thoughts get lost in a jumble and as a result I end up forgetting crucial information that I should have remembered. When possible, I try to keep a small notepad and pen to help ensure that I’ll be able to remember what it is that I need to.Seven plus or minus two” chunks of information has been taken as the upper limit of the beam of attention since the 1950s, when George Miller proposed what he called this ‘magical number’ in one of psychology’s most influential papers. More recently, though, some cognitive scientists have argued that four chunks is the upper limit.


2.People are in flow relatively rarely in daily life. Sampling people’s moods at random reveals that most of the time people are either stressed or bored, with only occasional periods of flow; only about 20% of people have flow moments at least once a day. Around 15% of people never enter a flow state during a typical day.”


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3. Despite trying to “unplug” from the world, this can be counter intuitive when trying to go for a walk in a highly populated area. The amount of noise that bombards us cannot be consistently filtered out despite thinking we can. Try getting in touch with nature as this will enable you to “unplug” much better.We do well to unplug regularly; quiet time restores our focus and composure. But that this engagement is just the first step. What we do next matters, too. Taking a walk down the city streets, Kaplan points out, still put demands on attention – we’ve got to navigate through crowds, dodge cars, and ignore honking horns and the hum of street noise. In contrast, a walk through the park or in the woods puts little such demand on attention. We can restore by spending time in nature – even a few minutes strolling in a park or any setting rich in fascinations like the muted read of clouds at sunset or a butterflies flutter.


4. In 60s and 70s, a study on gratification delay was conducted on children. In this study, children were presented with a marshmallow. They were then told that they would receive an extra one if they didn’t eat the one that was presented to them during the time the experimenter “went out” to get the other marshmallow. From this study, it was concluded that the students who had delayed gratification and waited, did better in life than the children who weren’t able to delay their gratification. The experimenters also looked at why some of the children were able to delay their gratification and why others weren’t. The children who were able to used various focus strategies to keep their mind off of the one in front of them and on the end goal of getting another. What this essentially means is that if you’re able to master your ability to focus your attention, you’ll be able to master what you want. Kids can have the most economically privileged childhood, yet if they don’t master how to delay gratification in pursuit of their goals those early advantages may wash out in the course of life.


5.Although video games may strengthen attention skills like rapidly filtering out visual distractions, they do little to amp up a more crucial skill for learning, sustaining focus on a gradually evolving body of information – such as paying attention in class and understanding what you’re reading, and how it ties in to what you learned last week or year.

By Ryan Lee


My Rating:
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Check out the book here:
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1 Comment

  1. […] Go out and explore nature more. In the book Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence by Daniel Goleman, Goleman states that going out for walks in nature can lead to increased focus. […]


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