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Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence

3.53  ·  Rating details ·  8,403 ratings  ·  863 reviews
Bestselling author Daniel Goleman returns with a groundbreaking look at today's scarcest resource and the secret to high performance and fulfillment: attention

For more than two decades, psychologist and journalist Daniel Goleman has been scouting the leading edge of the human sciences for what's new, surprising, and important. In Focus, he delves into the science of attent
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published October 8th 2013 by Harper (first published 2013)
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Mickaugrec I suggest you fan the pages and see what catches your glance. Then repeat holding upside down and flipping the pages in reverse, in case you missed an…moreI suggest you fan the pages and see what catches your glance. Then repeat holding upside down and flipping the pages in reverse, in case you missed anything.(less)

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Nov 11, 2013 rated it did not like it
The title of this book, "Focus", surely must be ironic. It's not just unfocused, it's so unfocused that I'm not really sure what it's supposed to be about (and yes, I did read the entire thing). It's as if the author just tried to jumble together all the things he's interested in - global warming, empathy, Daniel Kahneman-esque behavioral theory, business management, etc. The problem is there's no theme that really ties everything together. I mean, obviously the theme is supposed to be focus (he ...more
Johannes Bertus
Nov 23, 2013 rated it it was ok
This book is all about how we ... Oh look! Some interesting facts about Apple's business strategy!
James Houston
Jan 23, 2014 rated it liked it
I bought this book because I need help focusing, and I have a lot of respect for Daniel Goleman's important work on emotional intelligence.

I finished it a little bit disappointed, feeling like I knew some interesting facts about how focus works and can work, but without much in the way of useful information about how to increase my own focus.

I already knew that mindfulness is a good and valuable skill to train. I already knew that certain video games targeted at brain functions could train the
K.D. Absolutely
Turning off our smartphones once in a while. Giving our full attention when someone is talking to us. Letting the other person complete her sentence and not finishing it for her. Asking questions to show interest. Look her in the eyes. Really listen. No to multitasking. Focus on what's more important.

I thought I knew all of these or maybe I used to know but somehow lost them. So, I picked up this book one Sunday afternoon from Fullybooked The Block while waiting for my wife and daughter to arri
DNF at 50%

Book did not have enough "focus" to hold my interest.

Mal Warwick
Jan 06, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Daniel Goleman returned to Berkeley not long ago to speak to a large and enthusiastic audience at International House about the themes in his new book, Focus. Though he’d spent only his junior year as an undergraduate at Cal, his quips and asides quickly showed him to be fully in synch with Berkeley’s humane values. Though he never stated the point explicitly, it was also clear that Goleman saw the roots of the community’s concerns in the chemistry of our brains.

You may remember Goleman as the a
Jonathan Karmel
Nov 04, 2013 rated it it was ok
"Understandably, we focus on the people we value most. If you are poor, you depend on good relationships with friends and family whom you may need to turn to for help--say, when you need someone to look after your four-year-old until you get home from work. Those with few resources and a fragile perch on stability "need to lean on people," says Dacher Keltner, a psychologist at the University of California, Berkeley.

"So the poor are particularly attentive to other people and their needs.

"The wea
Janet Pawelek
Nov 12, 2013 rated it did not like it
Wow. This book is a mishmash of ideas, jettisoning from preschool kids to million-dollar executives, supposedly linking all with the focus of focus. It didn't work for me. To me, the only focus was on the author, how knowledgeable he feels he is, and how amazing his family is. Would not recommend unless you have insomnia.
Brent McGregor
Aug 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
From Amazon:
Having been a fan of Goleman since reading "Emotional Intelligence" in the 90's, I was excited to dive into "Focus".
Goleman does not disappoint. He begins by outlining our general condition in society today as being inattentive. Our minds are in a constant state of overload and what passes for 'multi-tasking' is described as a huge productivity barrier. Finding time to decompress, or be 'fully in the moment', requires a level of Self Awareness covered in Part II. Goleman goes into b
Emma Sea
Apr 24, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: paperback, i-own-it
If you are looking for strategies to improve your own focus, skip this.

Everything in this review is accurate.
Jan 25, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
"FOCUS" Lacks Focus (A Review of the Audiobook)

Published in 2013 by HarperCollins.
Read by the author, Daniel Goleman.
Duration: 8 hours, 8 minutes.

Dr. Daniel Goleman is best known as the author of Emotional Intelligence . In many ways this book is less of a book about the importance of focus and more of a sequel to Emotional Intelligence . It is also a anti-global warming manifesto, an education reform book, a self-help book for business leaders who want to be the real leaders in their offi
Matthew Green
Apr 29, 2014 rated it it was ok
How can a book entitled Focus be so unfocused?

Goleman doesn't seem to have anyplace he's intentionally going with his latest book. Instead, he's just cobbling together a layman's interpretation of research on attention. He clusters his topics into broader categories, but even these categories don't really seem all that meaningful. You really can't walk away with any single idea more complex than, "Attention is important," since there isn't a through-line, no particular thing he's trying to prove
Oct 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the top 10 most useful books I've ever read. Mr Goleman's Social Intelligence is another on that same list. A succinct, and yet detailed overview of how and why focus builds a better brain. It has revolutionised my view and motivation for meditation over and over again, more so than any Buddhist treatise or words by one of a number of meditation teachers. This book or at least its content should be taught to every schoolgoer, and esp, every business school graduate. And anybody who cannot ...more
Daniela Olivas
Aug 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017
Really good book,but it's not for everybody. You should have either read other books concerning cognitive psychology or you should have studied some kind of social studies. In other words it's not an easy book but i recommend it if you want to expand your knowledge in cognitive psychology and neuroscience and how they can be aplied through right behaviours in society (even reach the goal to become the right type of leader)
Chafic (Rello)
Aug 18, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Probably one of the most ironic books ever made.
Mostly because I had a hard time focusing while reading this.

But on a more serious note, it was okay. There are some good points and nuggets to take away from this book. Some would seem like common sense (putting your phone away), but there were a few gems that definitely help - it's one of those tricks where you would know all of them, or used to know and somehow have lost them.

Overall though, it felt really drawn out for the few learning points o
Soundview Executive Book Summaries
Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence by Daniel Goleman was chosen by Soundview Executive Book Summaries as one of the Top 30 Business Books of 2014.


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 In
Dec 17, 2015 rated it it was ok
While I was reading the book, I had doubt if I wasn't focusing with the book or it is an unfocus book despite the title and the essence of the book! after skimming through previous reviews, I saw that others too had the same impression.

The book has some useful information regarding types of focus (inner,outer,and other), and how it relates to the brain, how it relates to early childhood, focus in leadership, and other "random" information that the author tries to relate to the subject of the boo
Troy Blackford
Dec 23, 2015 rated it liked it
In a shocking plot twist, this book is kind of all over the place.

Goleman broadly interprets 'focus,' starting off describing what you think he is going to be talking about, and gradually going down all sorts of tangents as he approaches the end of the book. Possibly, he realized he wasn't going to hit his length requirement and just started roping things in.

Much of what's here is of great interest--especially if you haven't already read about it in other books. But it's found among a lot of...
Chandana Watagodakumbura
“Focus – The Hidden Driver of Excellence” by Dr Daniel Goleman (Author of the Bestselling Books on Emotional Intelligence/Psychologist)

“The big shock: statistical analysis found that a child’s level of self-control is every bit as powerful a predictor of her adult financial success and health (and criminal record, for that matter) as are social class, wealth of family of origin, or IQ. Willpower emerged as a completely independent force in life success – in fact, for financial success, self-cont
Dennis Littrell
Jul 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
How to pay attention and why it matters

In part this book is aimed at helping readers become better at what they do. In this sense “Focus” is a sophisticated self-help book. Love what you do, do what you love and do it with focus and deliberate (and smart) practice and your life will be more rewarding.

In a larger sense this book is about saving the planet from the catastrophic threat of systems breakdown with reference to pollution, soil depletion and erosion, habitat destruction, global warming,
Mariana Doroftei
Apr 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
I read this book with great pleasure. As I turned the pages, it made me think of real life situations that could be tackled and improved with a focused mind. For me the best part is how the author shifts the attention from self, to outer world, and finally to global systems awareness. The book is a good generator of ideas.
James Dalziel
Jan 10, 2016 rated it liked it
There is an irony that washes over the reader upon finishing Goleman's Focus, as we become conscious that a book aimed at explaining the importance, mechanisms and research related to focused thought has ventured far from the plot line to include lessons on climate change, systems theory, empathy, and business strategy, to name but a few of the barely tangentially related topics on offer toward the end of this pop-psychology bestseller. In short, Focus exhibits some of the characteristics we wou ...more
Dec 15, 2013 rated it liked it
The book was somewhat disappointing to me, but it was still worth it for this very concise summary: there are three kinds of focus we need to be successful: inner, outer, and other. That resonated with me, that we need to be self-aware, listen to others and evaluate and act on that input, and to be aware of the world around us. Sort of motherhood and apple pie, but still good advice.

The book was a little too meandering for my tastes, and I often think I have ADD. Particularly puzzling to me was
Poyan Nabati
I have to agree with some of the other reviews; for a book that's called "focus" it's terribly unfocused. It felt like the author did a Google Search for the word "focus" and then tried to write a book about everything he found.

Also, I'm pretty allergic to people who try to put up a scientific or authorative facade but don't really back it up in any way. For instance, he writes "muscle builders know you won't get a six-pack belly by lifting free weights - you need to do a particular set of crun
Sylvia Ho
Oct 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
I agree with the other reviewers on who wrote that this book called "Focus" ironically lacks it. There are really great chapters with rich data, such as the myth of the 10,000 hours discussing the benefits and components of focused practice. Other chapters such as the chapters about leadership lost my attention (ironically) because they merely repeat the same information in Goleman's other books on leadership and emotional intelligence. It is possible that Goleman did not have enough ...more
Craig Rowley
Sep 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Summary: Keep it Human to Lead Completely.

Goleman continues to do a wonderful job of grounding past theory in modern neuroscience. Excellent book for those who want to be more effective through self-awareness, empathic leadership, and focus on both short-term execution and long term-benefits.
Kirk Gray
Feb 26, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: business
The irony of this book is that I thought it lacked some, well, focus. It started off as the book you thought you were getting, then the second half sort of meandered all over the place. Interesting anecdotes, but not the quality I expected from this author.
Juliet Wilson
Apr 14, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: science
Subtitled The Hidden Driver of Excellence this is a psychology book that has an underlying environmentalist emphasis, though you're well on your way through the book before you really realise this.

The main topics covered are how to pay better attention to your tasks and what is going on in the world around you. It looks at how attention can be improved and can lead to better academic and lifetime achievements. It looks at empathy and how greater empathy can benefit the work of the medical profe
Maxwell Riess
Jan 13, 2018 rated it it was ok
Focus - the hidden driver of human excellence.

A book that champions the benefits of living in a more focused life, that is itself disappointingly unfocused in it execution.

It presents focus as a panacea to almost all maladies of the modern world. Professional success, finding meaningful work, weight loss, leadership, empathy, video game induced violence, education and averting environmental disaster are all, we are told, solved by cracking the problem of how to pay attention to what matters.

Dec 02, 2018 rated it it was ok
It’s funny that the name of the book is “focus”, because the author seems incapable of picking a subject and exploring it without going into ten different directions at once - which makes the whole thing very hard to focus on. I think it might have been more interesting when it came out a few years back, now it is just another one with repetitive concepts hammered over and over, and a mishmash of behavioral economics, business stories and tons of things we’ve read in other books.
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Focus Book review 1 7 Oct 13, 2018 04:22PM  

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Author of Emotional Intelligence and psychologist Daniel Goleman has transformed the way the world educates children, relates to family and friends, and conducts business. The Wall Street Journal ranked him one of the 10 most influential business thinkers.

Goleman’s Emotional Intelligence was on The New York Times best sellers list for a year-and-a-half. Named one of the 25 "Most Influential Busin

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