Have you ever gotten caught up in the "moon world" while you should be paying attention to a class or a business meeting?

Undoubtedly, the difficulty of staying focused impairs your performance at work and studies, as well as your ability to lead others.

According to the theories of author Daniel Goleman, it is possible, following some practices, to increase your focus and improve your performance.

In this summary, we will explain all those methods that are discussed throughout the book.


About the book


The Focus book (2013), written by Daniel Goleman, is a guide to mastering the rarest feature of our times: focus.

Based on scientific research, the book reveals that dominating our focus on a world where we are surrounded by distractions is the key to professional success and personal achievement.

So, if you want to know all the details of the book, the complete edition is available for purchase at the link: Focus.


About the Author


Daniel Goleman is a psychologist and former scientific journalist. He has worked in The New York Times for 12 years and is the author of 13 books, among them the bestseller Emotional Intelligence.

He completed his Ph.D. at Harvard University, where he also taught.

He is currently co-director of the Consortium for Research on Emotional Intelligence among organizations and a member of the Council of the Mind & Life Institute.


For whom is this book suitable?


This work is suitable for workers and students who want to increase their focus and their productivity or for anyone who wants to live a focused and conscious life.

In addition, the book's content also includes leaders who want to channel their energies effectively and improve relationships with their employees.


Key book highlights


The highlights of the book are:


  • There are three essential focus categories for a highly functional life: inner focus, external focus, and focus on the other.

  • Selective attention is the ability to focus on a task, despite sensory and emotional distractions.

  • Emotions interfere on focus. Completing a task is more difficult when you are upset.

  • The attention gets stronger and sharper with use, exercise, and practice.

  • Today's young people, members of the first digital generation, are growing more attuned to handsets than to people.

  • Every leader should focus the attention of the company where it is most needed and most productive.


This book is divided into 8 parts: the subtle ability, the anatomy of attention, self-awareness, reading other people, the larger context, intelligent practices, the well-focused leader and the great painting. Now let's get down to business?


Preface: The Subtle Skill


In the preface, Goleman presents the three types of focus and the current difficulty in focusing, both on the part of adults and children.



How well you pay attention affects every aspect of your life. Effective focus skills enhance mental processes, including understanding, learning, creativity, and reading other people's signals.

You need to exercise the three focus categories to make your life work well. They are:


  • The inner focus refers to attention to your feelings, values, and decision-making skills.

  • The focus on the other is about how you relate to and connect with other people.

  • The external focus allows you to navigate the world around you.


The moment of threat



The constant attraction of technology takes young people's attention and compromises their interactions with other people.

Today's youth, the first digital generation, grow more attuned to devices than to people, which can compromise the insightful skills needed to build empathy and social skills.


The impoverishment of attention


Many professionals have been complaining about the difficulty of concentrating on work because they feel the need to check their smartphones every minute.

Because of this, many patients have been self-medicated with attention-deficit medicines because they claim that without them they can not work.

Attention today is the number one problem within companies, schools, and other organizations.


Overview: Part I - The Anatomy of Attention


Part I of the book brings the concept of focus and explains the brain functioning responsible for attention.





Someone who writes poetry on a laptop in a busy cafe is showing selective attention, concentrating on a task and ignoring outside stimuli.

Distractions are sensory or emotional, and the explanation for all this lies in neuroscience.

The pre-frontal region of the brain is responsible for selective attention. The more you focus on one thing, the better your performance, because focusing on the target suppresses emotional interference and helps you stay calm under pressure.





Your wandering mind - where your thoughts travel when you are not engaged in a mental task - is the configuration of absence of the brain. In this state, people pause for self-reflection, contemplate future scenarios, project ideas, recall memories, or question their assumptions.

Doing activities that do not require much focus frees your mind to ramble.

If your attention is being drawn by something, to recover it, take breaks, meditate, exercise or do something fun.


Do you love what you do?


You focus more easily when you do something you like.

On the other hand, repetitive and unsatisfactory tasks cause disengagement, boredom, and apathy.

Only 20% of people are able to engage in activity at least once a day. The secret to getting there is to do what we want with passion.


Superior attention and inferior attention


The human brain is formed by two semi-independent systems. These systems are the upper part of the brain and the lower part of the brain.

Brain activity at the bottom is involuntary, reflexive, and fast.

Already the upper brain, which is under conscious control, is the place of voluntary focus, active when you choose to do some activity.


Overview: Part II - Self-Awareness


In this part, the concept of self-awareness is addressed.



Self-awareness is a focus that functions as an internal compass. It governs your actions and aligns them with your values. Willpower and self-control are functions of self-awareness.

Concentrating on reaching a goal requires self-control to subjugate your impulses and ignore intrusive emotions.


Overview: Part III - Reading Other People


Here the author shows the importance of reading people's body language and the power of empathy.


The ability to read people


The ability to read people by their body gestures can be extremely useful as it allows you to know when someone does not want to deal with a certain subject, when to leave someone alone or when someone needs some comfort.

This can improve your relationship with your family, friends, co-workers, and clients.





Cognitive empathy is a brain function that allows you to look at things from another person's point of view, understand what that person is thinking and feeling, and manage their emotional response.

People who do not have empathy often act inappropriately, miss out on nonverbal messages, or misread certain contexts.

They usually do not notice when committing social gaffes, such as being rude or speaking too loudly.


Overview: Part IV - The Bigger Context


In this part, we will understand why the focus is more important than repetition itself.


The 10 thousand hours rule



The rule says that you need to devote at least 10,000 hours of effort to become good at something.

Second, expert Anders Ericsson, a psychologist at Florida State University, said, "No one benefits from mechanical repetition, but rather adjusts their performance several times to get closer to their goal."

Practice only brings you closer to perfection if done intelligently, that is, if the person who is practicing uses that time to make adjustments and improvements. How much attention you put into practice is crucial.


Overview: Part V - Intelligent Practices


In the fifth part, the author highlights the importance that well choose games can have in developing the focus.



Certain games enhance some cognitive abilities, including visual acuity and spatial perception, attention, decision making, and the ability to track objects. Intelligent games that improve focus and increase cognitive function can become educational tools and provide:


  • Specific goals for different levels of play;

  • Feedback and pacing for each user;

  • Challenges that progress according to the skills of the players;

  • Different contexts for applying a particular skill set.


Overview: Part VI - The Well-Focused Leader


In this part, the book addresses the triple focus directed to leaders.


Every effective leader should focus the attention of the company where it is most needed and productive.

One way to do this targeting is through triple focus. We will now talk about each of these 3 focuses:

  • Inner focus: pay attention to your behaviors and the effects of your actions. Leadership requires knowing your values and communicating your vision to inspire and motivate others.

  • Focus on the other: it means developing an organizational strategy to provide a roadmap of problems and goals that require attention. Great managers develop interpersonal skills and can effectively listen, respond and collaborate.

  • External focus: Leaders absorb the big picture, visualize complicated systems, and predict how their decisions will be made in the future.


Overview: Part VII - The broader framework


Here we reflect on our values and motivations.


Triple focus can help us achieve our goals, but for what purpose? We should ask ourselves what motivates us to do that. It is not enough only to think in ourselves because, in the long run, this will condemn our species.

Some questions from the Dalai Lama help us evaluate our motivations:


  • Is it just for me or for others as well?

  • Is it for the benefit of the few or many?

  • Is it for now or for the future?


Undoubtedly, staying focused has a great impact on our performance and, consequently, our ability to become successful.

A life focused on us, on other people and on our planet, leads us to richer experiences in everyday life.


Okay, but how can I apply this in my life?


One way to exercise your attention is by meditating. Meditation will help you focus on one thing for a certain period of time.

Feeling optimistic is also crucial. Positive emotions activate the left prefrontal area of the brain, making people feel motivated, aware, and energized.

Remember that focus is the key to being successful in any area of your life.

If you are interested in the book, you can purchase it by clicking on the image below:



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