Daniel Goleman’s new book explores the research and practice of attention — which turns out to be a powerful tool to create positive change. Here’s why he wrote the book – and why it matters to those of us committed to emotional intelligence.
I asked Dan about the origins of the book: “I’ve always been interested in attention; my earliest research at Harvard was on the retraining of attention to help people recover from stress. But it was only while writing FOCUS that I updated my understanding with the most recent scientific findings that I saw my model of emotional intelligence could be recast in terms of where we put our attention and how.”
We’ve all experienced the link between attention and emotion. If I’m frustrated with a colleague, it’s easy to focus on the ways he’s not meeting my expectations, and my frustration increases. Yet when I focus on the great work we’ve done together, my frustration diminishes. Goleman says this is at the heart of the book:
“In many approaches to EQ, including in Six Seconds’ approach, there is an ingredient of noticing how we notice, of developing new forms of focus. My book FOCUS provides a new framework for understanding why this is so critically important. This book will be valuable for people interested in emotional intelligence because it goes deeply into this essential skillset; a capability that will enhance emotional intelligence, and performance in many professional and personal domains.”
Dan and I will be holding a series of conversations about focus, emotions, leading, and living — and we’ll share these as an series of blog posts. We want you to be part of the conversation! What’s a question you’d like us to discuss?
The author of the international bestseller Emotional Intelligence returns with a groundbreaking look at today’s scarcest resource and the secret to high performance and fulfillment: attention.
For more than two decades, psychologist and journalist Daniel Goleman has been scouting the leading edge of the human sciences for what’s new, surprising, and important. In Focus, he delves into the science of attention in all its varieties, presenting a long-overdue discussion of this little-noticed and underrated mental asset that matters enormously for how we navigate life. Attention works much like a muscle: use it poorly and it can wither; work it well and it grows. In an era of unstoppable distractions, Goleman persuasively argues that now more than ever we must learn to sharpen focus if we are to contend with, let alone thrive in, a complex world.
Goleman analyzes attention research as a threesome: inner, other, and outer focus. A well-lived life demands that we be nimble at each. Goleman shows why high-performers need all three kinds of focus, as demonstrated by rich case studies from fields as diverse as competitive sports, education, the arts, and business. Those who excel rely on what Goleman calls smart practice—such as mindfulness meditation, focused preparation and recovery from setbacks, continued attention to the learning curve, and positive emotions and connections—that help them improve habits, add new skills, and sustain excellence. Combining cutting-edge research with practical findings, Focus reveals what distinguishes experts from amateurs and stars from average performers.
Ultimately,Focus calls upon readers not only to pay attention to what matters most to them personally, but also to turn their attention to the pressing problems of the wider world, to the powerless and the poor, and to the future, not just to the seductively simple demands of the here and now.