Daniel Goleman is the bestselling author of Social Intelligence, Emotional Intelligence, and eleven other books. A former science journalist for The New York Times, he cofounded the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning at the Yale University Child Studies Center, now at the University of Illinois at Chicago. For more than two decades, this psychologist has been on the cutting edge of the human sciences, scouting out the territory ahead.
In this ambitious and thought-provocative work, Goleman examines the rich and revealing value of attention as it plays out in psychology, brain studies, sports, education, the arts, and business. He has dedicated Focus to "the well-being of generations to come." In sections on The Anatomy of Attention, Self-Awareness, Reading Others, The Bigger Context, Smart Practice, and the Well-Focused Leader, and The Big Picture, he squares off with the issues and challenges that today's youth will be facing as they mature.
One of the most important skills is the ability to focus on one task and not divert our attention or deplete our energy on other tasks. Those who want to succeed in the future will have to master the art of balancing three types of focus: inner (our values, intuition, and ways of responding), other (being present and developing empathy with others), and outer (awareness of larger systems and trends in society). What does this add up to? Yoda of Star Wars reminds us: "Your focus is your reality."
But such attention is declining in today's world. Youth are spending more time with machines than with people. At work, men and women spend a lot of time zoning out and amusing themselves with a thousand and one diversions or distractions. For example, research has proven that a reader's mind wanders anywhere from 20 to 40 percent of the time while perusing a text.
One of the survival values that has great potential for the future is emotional empathy — the ability to put yourself in another person's shoes. This art and spiritual practice depends on the muscle of attention. Compassion builds on empathy as does a genuine concern for the welfare and flourishing of others. Goleman wants us all to go further: "The more you care about someone, the more attention you pay — and the more attention you pay, the more you care. Attention interweaves with love."
Goleman also has some impressive things to say about flow, mindfulness-based emotional intelligence, addressing systemic problems, fast and slow brain function, and the well-focused leader. This writer can always be depended upon for deep thinking about subjects that are important to our times and the future. Focus is another book that shines with complex insights and understandings. It is highly recommended!