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Focus by Daniel Goleman

71nvYbMAE6L._SL1500_This book is composed of some of the concepts already presented in the bestseller Emotional Intelligence by the same author. The suggestive subtitle (the hidden driver of excellence) gives a relatively clear idea of the starting point: distraction and its importance in the quality of our performance, whether in the professional environment, sports, family … And this is not a minor issue in our society, where distractions and interferences (whatever they are) are numerous.
Accordingly, the first part of the book deals with the attention from the scientific view and from the behavior of the brain. And from that point, concepts like open awareness are introduced, which allows us to enjoy the moment in front of the emotional reactivity that makes us get stuck in irritating details. How often do we lose the track of what we are doing because we cannot get out of our head that discussion, or that comment, or that angry face…!
The book is based on the concept of self-awareness (knowledge of oneself), a kind of internal compass that allows us to be aligned with our values and to focus (hence the title) on achieving goals. Only from this knowledge can we, according to the author, practice self-control which, among other things, is to delay gratification, manage the impulses, regulate ourselves emotionally or plan. With the domain of self-awareness and its control we can manage our will which, ultimately, is what allows us to keep our attention and focus, above impulses, habits or desires.
What is the proposal to achieve excellence? Of course, for a high level of performance it is required lots of practice (it is mentioned the rule of 10,000 hours), but accompanied by the concentration and the support of a teacher or coach. No matter how much time we spend, for example, to improve our record in swimming, if we do not focus on our style and do not receive any feedback on our performance.
To improve and work the attention the author proposes the practice of meditation, specifically, something that is now a quite fashionable topic, mindfulness as an “organic tool to teach skills on concentration”. Broadly speaking, this is a mental training that allows us to develop the ability to focus and break the chain of thoughts and internal dialogues that can irritate us and deviate.
Other issues are discussed in the book, such as the characteristics of focused leader (especially in the field of organizations) who should enjoy a wide or systemic vision to guide the team and the required empathy to manage it. Ecology is also addressed, but from my point of view it is a bit out of place in the book.
In the end, this is a work of scientific type (the aforementioned studies, references and bibliography are numerous) introducing the matter of attention nowadays in an entertaining way. This is not a self-help book or a practical guide to meditation. It can be considered as a strong tool into the topic.

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