|Year : 2014 | Volume
| Issue : 1 | Page : 218-219
Focus: The Hidden Driver of Success
Director- Nuvis Analytics Pvt Ltd, Data scientist, Mumbai, India
|Date of Web Publication||23-Apr-2014|
C R Sridhar
Director- Nuvis Analytics Pvt Ltd, Data scientist, Mumbai
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
|How to cite this article:|
Sridhar C R. Focus: The Hidden Driver of Success. J Can Res Ther 2014;10:218-9
Author : Daniel Goleman
Publisher: Bloomsbury, India
Price: Rs. 499
Year of Publication: 2013
Daniel Goleman became famous with his book "Emotional Intelligence". Until he probed the importance of managing emotions, most people believed that intelligence as measured by IQ was the key to success, despite the observations to the contrary. Subsequently, he has waded into ecological and social intelligence with considerable success. In this book, he examines focus as a driver of success.
Focus or focussing is understood by all of us and is common parlance. We have heard the chastisement of "Focus" "Concentrate" since our childhood. Goleman essentially uses this understanding of focus to examine its role in various situations. In the process, he also touches upon meditation and mindfulness, and some neural science.
The world today suffers from information overload. As more and more information pours in we start losing focus. There are so many distractions, such as television (TV), internet, cell phone etc., that the choice creates confusion. With such a range of availability most of us visit these different touch points, but rarely stay with any one task with a complete focus. Goleman says, "Since focus demands we tune out our emotional distractions, our neural wiring for selective attention includes that for inhibiting emotion. That means those who focus best are relatively immune to emotional turbulence, more able to stay unflappable in a crisis and to keep an even keel despite life's emotional waves". We all know this but how does one achieve it?
Like many other neural scientists, he talks about the logical and the intuitive mind and their roles in our living. Top-down and bottom-up are two different types of responses that the human mind uses. The bottom-up is intuitive, and the top-down is logical thinking. It is possible to take leaps in intuitive thinking when the mind is calm and relaxed. This can be achieved through mindfulness and meditation. Goleman makes a cautious mention of Yogic Meditation and Buddhist mindfulness for developing focus.
Two concepts that he discusses in detail are the "Empathy Triad and Systems Thinking" and their importance for an effective leader. The empathy triad he refers to consists of cognitive empathy, emotional empathy, and empathic concern. A balance of this triad is needed to effectively deal with people. Many skilled people, surgeons, for example, lack emotional empathy and think that their skill is enough to deal with patients. An analysis of doctors who have been sued for malpractice are not those who have average skills but those who do not have the skills to deal with patients' emotions.
Systems Thinking, a big topic now-a-days, started with global warming. A small change in one variable affects the entire system. For example: Manufacturing a pencil needs 299 steps, starting from planting a sapling. When the demand for pencils grows each step is affected. Some of these steps are ecologically unfriendly, even though the increased demand is good for business. Understanding systems dynamics is critical to identifying focus areas for the success of a system. Most of us following the American obsession on global warming are aware of this too.
An interesting myth that the author discusses in detail is that of 10,000 h-rule. The success literature is full of articles that claim that for one to be perfect, whether it is piano playing or wielding a cricket bat, one needs a practice of 10,000 h. The problem with this rule is that this is only half true. Goleman says, "If you are a duffer at golf, say, and you make the same mistakes every time you try a certain swing or putt, 10,000 h of practising that error will not improve your game. You will be a duffer albeit an old one". Then what really is the truth in this rule? He says "You don't get benefits from mechanical repetition, but by adjusting your execution over and over to get closer to your goal". In essence you need to coach, a guru, a focus.
The book makes an interesting read. Goleman presents a lot of research and anecdotal evidence to present a strong case for focus as a driver for success. The chapter on leadership is particularly relevant to the country that is struggling to understand the poor performance of leaders with proven intellectual ability. His stress on meditation and mindfulness for developing the trait of focussing is particularly relevant in this age of TV and the internet. The book is definitely worth a read.