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Focus Summary (6/10)

Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence is a book about gaining control over your attention. It’s getting harder to focus because there is more information and more ways to access this information. But what is important is to think of attention as a muscle, that, if worked on, will get stronger. What you decide to give your attention to will define your life.

Types of distractions (Sensory and Emotional)

Sensory: Noises, visual stimuli.
Emotional: Relationship problems, lost a job.

But what most distracts you is not external, but what is internal. It is your mind that prevents you from creating space for yourself to be creative.

To avoid being a victim of your brain’s tendency to make loose associations between ideas, and constantly ramble, you must teach yourself to pay more attention to your environment.

When you become more aware of the noises of your environment, the constant rambling in your mind quiets down. But you cannot do this for long.

Since you are not tapping into the lizard brain, which is millions of years old, but a relatively modern brain that has only recently learned to think slowly, you must alternate between deep focus and relaxation to avoid burnout.

To avoid burnout from too much focus, take a walk, play a game, or find a hobby that does not require too much concentration

Benefits of Focus

More focus means less susceptible to emotional problems

If you are focused, new information is combined with old information. New neural networks are formed, and retention increases.

Types of focus

1) Inner (self‐management)

When your brain is fried, let your thoughts wander, they may lead to where you want them to go (or where they are trying to go). The random procession of thoughts have a goal that you have not consciously designated. If you allow them to unfold at their own pace, you will find yourself making realizations that you surprise you.

Do work your love

The more your work is aligned with what you personally value, the more willpower you have. In other words, it is much harder to have willpower when you are not engaged with what you do. The key to knowing what to do is to take your intuition seriously. Your automatic thinking can sometimes get you in trouble if used too recklessly, but often, it is a great guide to what you really want. And often, if you let people crowd this inner voice out, you will lose sense of what you actually want, and will pursue something else (which you will probably fail at since you won’t be able to muster up enough willpower to be great at it).

2) Outer (empathy for others)

To be an effective leader, you must develop your ability to empathize.

Cognitive empathy allows you to understand why people behave the way they do. This includes recognizing their emotional state, but without necessarily sympathizing.

A Machievallean uses this form of empathy to manipulate people.

Emotional empathy is when you put yourself in the person’s shoes, and experience as directly as possible, what they are experiencing.

Empathy helps build trust with others, and validates them. But too much empathy can make you lose focus, so it is important to distance yourself from people sometimes.

3) Outer (awareness of broad patterns and complex systems)

Change your perception of time. See distant problems as immediate ones to solve them. If you don’t do this, you become complacent and only look for short-term fixes, that may end up exacerbating the problem.

In the short term, widening the road will solve traffic jams, but eventually, the problem will come back again. Focus on thinking of systems holistically and understanding that reality is dynamic. The right solution might not be the most obvious one in the short term.

Know yourself. Understand how you can speed up your learning, and discover the things that prevent you from learning.

"Silence is the best expression of scorn" - G.B. Shaw

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