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Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence

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Daniel Goleman's latest book is Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence. For more than two decades, psychologist and journalist Goleman has been scouting the leading edge of the human sciences for what's new, important and surprising. In this book, he delves into the science of attention in all its varieties, presenting a comprehensive discussion on this mental asset that matters enormously as to how we navigate life. 

Attention works much like a muscle: use it poorly and it can wither; work it well and it grows. In an era of unstoppable distractions, Goleman argues that now more than ever we must learn to sharpen focus if we are to contend with, let alone thrive, in a complex world. 

Here are a few of his insights:

1. Attention is like a muscle. It gets stronger with practice.

2. There are three areas of needed focus: inner focus, focus on others, and outer focus on our world.

3. Your focus is your reality.

4. Distractions are both sensory and emotional (the most draining kind).

5. The brain's default is a wandering mind. Yet even here, creative juices can flow.

6. The most powerful distractor is the chatter of our own mind.

7. Mindfulness quiets our inner voices by presenting us with a focus. It trains us in attention and helps focus the drifting mind.

8. The antidote to mental fatigue is rest. Time out in nature can be particularly helpful as can activities where our enjoyment is immersive.

9. The more you care about someone, the more you pay attention to them and the more attention you give them the more you care about them.

10. Limit strenuous practice of anything to 4 hours maximum per day.

11. Move from a firefight of the day mentality to thoughtful reflection.

12. Organisation attention is vital. Effective leaders focus it when and where it matters. Leaders need to capture and direct collective attention.

13. The ripple effect: what matters to leaders guides other people's attention, not just their own.

 Some related Scriptures for those of us who are followers of Jesus Christ:

Proverbs 4:25-27. Look straight ahead, and fix your eyes on what lies before you. Mark out a straight path for your feet; stay on the safe path. Don’t get sidetracked; keep your feet from following evil. NLT

Romans 12:1-2. And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice — the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. NLT

Revelation 3:6. Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches. NLT

1 Samuel 3:10. The Lord came and called as before, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel replied, “Speak, your servant is listening. NLT