Focus is a problem for me and the author proved it on page 16. He also wrote about the increasing distractions offered by our internet world that weaken society as a whole. Multi tasking is not the best way to extract the most out of this book.
Focus is an old concept, but not necessarily fully understood. Most of us think of it as a substitute for concentration, but you always have a focus, although you might not be conscious of it. The automatic part of your brain evolved to help you survive.
He starts with what might be called the wandering mind. You know, where your mind drifts to one idea and then to another seemingly unrelated. Goleman explains this is normal--your automatic brain has an enormous number of details stored in it. Creativtiy is the result of linking all these minutiae in unique ways and often these links come with little effort. Many of those with ADD (attention deficit disorder) are in fact more creative.
Goleman differentiates between automatic control and executive control. Executive control is where you make conscious decisions. Automatic control requires less energy
Video games are often argued as bad, but in reality they have potential to develop attention. They become bad when they encourage obsessive behaviour. Obsessed youngsters do worse in school and improve when cut off. Video games can encourage violence or calming.
Everything is part of a bigger system. While you are focusing on some small (maybe important) detail you will need to be aware of how that detail fits into a greater whole. An example given is the efforts to develop electric cars overlooking the fact that for the most part the energy often still comes from coal utilities and can eventually lead to more road construction. Looking at the overall energy system can lead to better solutions. Understanding a system requires enough time for feedback loops to be witnessed.
In a New Zealand study done in Dunedin it was concluded that no mental skills matter as much in life success as executive control By that they mean the ability to ignore impulses, filter out irrelevant facts and stay focused on goals. Impulse control can be developed.
In Singapore they have few natural resources and have realized people are critical to economic success. They have embarked on a program to develop emotional intelligence which they have found also boosts health and reduces crime. The strategies a person develops (or is guided to) can help develop attention. Mindfulness helps develop attention
Strategy boils down to what should be focused on. Involves deciding what not to do as well as what to do. Exploitative strategies focus on established patterns and are focused on improving efficiencies. Exploratory strategies are aimed at discovering new information and new patterns.
Goleman spends quite a few pages on leadership. Leaders need to balance focuses on their inner self, the outer circumstances and other people. Ideally they will be empathic, but have self-control. Leaders know how to get to the point that needs focus by a group. One effective method is to tell stories. A really good book on that is "Tell to Win" and you can learn about it and how I used it to develop a story at: http://www.johnfdavidson.com/2011/06/tell-to-win-offers-winning-formula.html
I am also reminded of another blog about a wonderful Bollywood movie that explains how a story teller discovered his talent: http://www.johnfdavidson.com/2016/02/tamasha-wonderful-story.html
An interesting quote from Greystone Bakery,"We don't hire people to bake brownies. We bake brownies to hire people." They are noted for hiring ex convicts and believe in giving people a chance.
The author concludes "We must ask ourselves in the service of why exactly are we using whatever talents we might have."
Daniel Goleman has lots of interesting perspectives on psychology you might find beneficial. Check his website: http://www.danielgoleman.info