“In very recent years the science of attention has blossomed far beyond vigilance. That science tells us these skills determine how well we perform any task. If they are stunted, we do poorly; if muscular, we can excel. Our very nimbleness in life depends on this subtle faculty. While the link between attention and excellence remains hidden most of the time, it ripples through almost everything we seek to accomplish.
This supple tool embeds within countless mental operations. A short list of some basics includes comprehension, memory, learning, sensing how we feel and why, reading emotions in other people and interacting smoothly. Surfacing this invisible factor in effectiveness lets us better see the benefits of improving this mental faculty, and better understand just how to do that.
Through an optical illusion of the mind we typically register the end products of attention—our ideas good and bad, a telling wink or inviting smile, the whiff of morning coffee—without noticing the beam of awareness itself.
Though it matters enormously for how we navigate life, attention in all its varieties represents a little-noticed and underrated mental asset. My goal here is to spotlight this elusive and underappreciated mental faculty in the mind’s operations and its role in living a fulfilling life.”
~ Daniel Goleman from Focus
Daniel Goleman is a former New York Times science writer and author of the uber-bestselling book Emotional Intelligence.
In Focus, we look at the underlying neuroscience of attention.
We need to start by realizing that the strength (or weakness) of our attention is at the core of E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G. we do.
Which is why Goleman calls it “the hidden driver of excellence.”
(It’s also why protecting and cultivating Emerson’s attention is one of the absolute top priorities Alexandra and I have as we seek to bring forth (aka parent) the best within him.)
The good news is that our focus is like a muscle—although if we use it poorly it will wither, if we work it out wisely it gets stronger. Goleman walks us through the neuroscience of the various facets of our focus. I’m going to focus on practical stuff we can apply TODAY.
As you’d expect, this book is packed with Big Ideas. (Get a copy here.) I’m excited to share a handful of my favorites so let’s jump straight in!
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