BA Speed Read #9: Focus - The Hidden Driver of Excellence

It’s speedread time, the series where we read books, so you don’t have to! Today, we’re looking at Focus – The Hidden Driver of Excellence by Daniel Goleman.

BA Speed Read #9: Focus - The Hidden Driver of Excellence

The smartphone revolution is in full swing and even though we get many great benefits to using them, we suffer one extraordinary loss as a result – our attention span. It seems to just go out the window while using smartphones.

When your life turns into a feeling of needing quick hits and dopamine fixes, it’s time to turn on airplane mode and put your phone down for a while. Relying on phones, iPads and other devices more than on our minds has left us with an attention span that’s less than that of a goldfish. That might sound funny, but we think it’s something to worry about.

In his book, Daniel Goleman aims to give you some of your focus and attention back and even calls it the hidden driver of excellence. It’s a book about mindfulness, willpower, leadership, empathy and success.

Here are 3 great takeaways from his book:

1. Once your brain feels fried, just let your thoughts wander.

2. You can’t do anything better for your willpower than work on something you love.

3. Think of distant problems as immediate to better plan for the future.

Feeling focused already? If not, don’t worry, we’re about to fix that!

Lesson 1: Once your brain feels fried, just let your thoughts wander.

The first thing we should know about is open awareness. All kinds of attention are valuable – not just the one that’s laser-sharp and focused. When we find our mind wandering a lot, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s wandering in the wrong direction.

Sometimes taking a break is exactly what we need, because it makes our mind wander towards the thing we’ve been dying to figure out. For most of us, downtime seems to be a luxury, In reality, we can’t afford not to take it, because when we keep staring at the same problem we’ll only get frustrated and perform even worse.

It’s important to let our mind roam freely and practice “mindlessness” sometimes. For example, when we take a break and leave our work environment/mindset behind, our subconscious starts to come up with creative ideas based on us being openly aware of our surroundings. How to do this as a BA? Take a walk, put your phone down, don’t talk to a customer for 10-15 minutes and let your brain reset – not turn off or power down – just clear the way for the next action you need to take.

Lesson 2: You can’t do anything better for your willpower than work on something you love.

Sometimes we really do need to work on something for several hours in a focused manner, ideally in the state of flow. What we need to make that happen is willpower. What we eat, how we sleep, and exercise are important factors in maintaining willpower, but Daniel Goleman, through research, discovered one we bet you haven’t heard about: doing work you love. Ok, it’s an obvious one, but a lot of people still do work they don’t love.

Studies have recently found that the psychological aspects of willpower are a lot stronger than we thought, meaning most of it actually comes from our mind, not our body. The reason our willpower gets stronger if we do something we love is that if your work reflects your goals, it becomes effortless.

Late nights, confronting big obstacles and the patience needed to see it through come a lot easier when we’re 100% convinced that what we’re doing is the exact right thing for us to do. As a BA you may love the people you get to meet daily, you may love the challenges you overcome, you may love setting and hitting your own goals. Whatever it may be, discover it and then stay close to what it is you love and that fuels you.

Lesson 3: Think of distant problems as immediate to better plan for the future.

We bet you have a dream. A crazy one. Something no one really cares about, but you. And even before you knew that working on it might boost your willpower, I’m sure you wanted to. But you didn’t.

It’s the first 10 pages of your film script that are sitting inside your desk drawer since 2015. The once in a lifetime vacation you still haven’t taken. The school reunion party you never threw. These things make life worth living and are what we all want to accomplish in that short time we’re here – yet we keep procrastinating on them, because they don’t have deadlines.

But Goleman says, if you imagine these problems as serious, immediate threats that need dealing with right now, then you can stop choosing what makes you happy in the short-term and doesn’t solve the long-term issue.

Focus on the larger context and imagine the consequences of long-term issues as happening tomorrow, not 30 years from now, and you’ll make much better decisions in the here and now. Procrastinate today, you’ll be in the exact same place tomorrow. If nothing changes. Nothing changes. What do you need to take immediate action on right now?

Here's what Steff, a BA in the UK, had to say about the book:
"It's a book about leadership, mindfulness, willpower, success. As a BA you need to learn how to educate yourself everyday so your business can grow further. My mentor gave to me the book couple of months ago, and it's fascinating how my approach to people, to my business and to myself has changed since I started reading."

Make sure you check out our other Speedreads, like Frank Bettger’s “How I raised myself from failure to success in selling” and, if you want, get a copy of Focus here on Amazon