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Book Review: Focus

by Daniel Goleman
by Daniel Goleman

When a pioneer in any field returns with a new piece of thought leadership, whether written or spoken, the eyes and ears of the business world instinctively turn to see and hear. Daniel Goleman, former New York Times science reporter and multiple-bestselling author, changed the landscape of management with his book Emotional Intelligence (EQ). Goleman returns now with a book that has the potential to rival his previous peak. In Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence, Goleman coaches readers on the need to strengthen a trait that like a muscle can indicate just how well we can lift a figurative load. This book is now available as a Soundview Executive Book Summary.

Goleman begins Focus by helping readers understand the anatomy of attention. Of particular interest is his discussion of the bottom-up and top-down minds. The bottom-up mind works faster and is involuntary and automatic, while the top-down mind is, as Goleman writes, “the seat of self-control, which can (sometimes) overpower automatic routines and mute emotionally driven impulses.” The interplay between these two sections of the brain is critical to understanding mental toughness and, perhaps more importantly, mental tiredness.

The overarching theme that focus is a mental muscle serves as a powerful metaphor that will help the material stick with readers. Focus moves through subjects such as self-awareness, reading others, and smart practice in ways that offer new, thought-provoking views. As with Emotional Intelligence, Goleman has found a way to turn the complexity of human behavior into an engaging read with practical takeaways. Focus will help keep any executive razor sharp.

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