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Focus by Daniel Goleman

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The book we are going to explore today is Focus – The Hidden Driver of Excellence by Daniel Goleman.

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About The Author – Daniel Goleman

Daniel Goleman is an American psychologist, author and science journalist. For twelve years, he wrote for The New York Times, reporting on the brain and behavioural sciences. For one year and a half, his 1995 book, “Emotional Intelligence” was on The New York Times Best-seller list, a best-seller in many countries. The book is currently in print worldwide and available in well over 40 different languages.

Goleman has a number of other books in print, including:

  • The Varieties of the Meditative Experience, published in 1977,
  • Emotional Intelligence in 1995,
  • Social Intelligence: Beyond IQ, Beyond Emotional Intelligence, in 2006,
  • A Force for Good: The Dalai Lama’s Vision for Our World in 2015 and
  • Altered Traits: Science Reveals How Meditation Changes Your Mind, Brain, and Body in 2017.

Daniel Goleman was born on March 7, 1946, and he grew up in a Jewish household in Stockton, California. He received his PhD from Harvard, where he has also been a visiting lecturer. He is a co-chairman of a Research Group on Emotional Intelligence in Organizations at Rutgers University, which recommends best practices for developing emotional intelligence abilities, and promotes rigorous research on the contribution of emotional intelligence to workplace effectiveness.

Now that we know about the author of the book we are considering today, let’s go ahead and look into the book and how we can benefit from it.

The Book: Focus – The Hidden Driver of Excellence

In this book, Goleman offers a deep look into today’s most important resource and the secret to high performance and fulfilment: focus and attention.

Through a combination of cutting-edge research with practical findings, Focus takes the readers into the science of attention, presenting a long-overdue discussion of this highly important mental asset. In an era of overpowering distractions, Goleman argues that now more than ever before, we must learn to sharpen our focus, if we are to survive in the complex world of today.

To strengthen your focused mind for maximum benefit, Goleman boils down the argument of attention research into three types as “Inner”, “other”, and “outer focus”. Let’s look at them one after the other.


Inner Focus centres on our intuitions and guiding values. Consider for example in meditative practice, when our strength of intuition is guided by what is known as our “third-eye” chakra or energy centre, which rests in the centre of our forehead.

In this type of focus, our two eyes are Receptive, meaning they take in information that is right in front of us. Our third eye, on the other hand, is Perceptive. That is to say, it takes in information that is beyond what is right in front of us. And combining our receptive and perceptive vision helps us to better attuned to our relationships and surroundings.

Other Focus:

Other Focus, on the other hand, strengthens our ability to be connected to other people. It requires a strong sense of empathy and compassion, and a desire to understand the perspectives and situations of the people around us. A simpler explanation will mean that “Other Focus” shifts our focus from ourselves to other people. Can you think of any experience in this regards? The third among the three types of focuses is the outer focus.

Outer Focus:

According to Golman, this type of Focus equips us with the ability to navigate the larger world. Those with Outer Focus understand that we cannot operate in a bubble and that we are connected to something much larger than ourselves. This is probably deeper than the previous two already explained and at the same times smoothes our connections to the people in our lives.

The executives, said Goleman, need strengths in all three, and to use the right one at the right time. When these streams of attention weave together, they become a hidden driver of excellence.

The Main Idea Of The Book

In essence, the central idea running through the entire book “FOCUS: The Hidden Driver of Excellence” is that we need to recapture the ability “paying attention”, an important ability we are not largely losing to the social dynamics of today’s world. Goleman’s message seems to have come just at the right time.

To better understand the urgency of the above message, it’s enough for you to look around you in today’s noisy fast-moving world, full of distraction and disorientation for many people. In addition to that, it needs to be understood that the ability to focus is integral to our happiness, productivity and relationships, both at a personal and professional level. Now let see what others are saying about the book.

3 Top Reviews By Readers

  • “Goleman’s prem­ise is that our ability to block out the mass of digital distractions is diminished by the “cognitive exhaustion” they cause. Without finding ways to be focused, we cannot help but be distracted,” -Financial Times.
  • “Combining decades of research findings with practical applications, Goleman has produced a book that offers something for everyone. Teachers of the Second Step program will see the benefits of the skills they impart to their students reinforced on every page of Goleman’s book.” – Committee for Children Blog.
  • “Focus makes the important point that “the power to disengage our attention from one thing and move it to another is essential for well-being.” Excessive stimulation from our devices, and just from the crowds around us, makes it increasingly difficult to become fully absorbed in anything at all. And full absorption, for Goleman, is fundamental to happiness.” – Washingtonpost.

What You Can Take Away From The Book?

Like Mark Twain, the famous American writer once said, “You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus. Being able to focus, to pay undivided attention to one task at a time is one ability you must master for your personal and professional success, and there is no shortcut to this other than practices and consistency. Do you want your life to mean something? Then, learn how to focus and learn it well so it can serve you in your self-improvement journey.

Did you find this article valuable to you? Share your thoughts on the comment section below. Check out our YouTube channel and subscribe so you never miss any of our educational videos. Until next week, have a wonderful time.

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Obehi Ewanfoh

Obehi Ewanfoh

He is an author and instructor on self-improvement strategy. He is the founder of A-classes eLearning platform and he is extremely passionate about helping people to improve themselves so they can get more out of their lives. He lives with his family in Verona, Italy.

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