Thursday 18 April 2019
Focus by Daniel Goleman
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 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 professions and managers. It also looks at how to think about how systems and the future work, while your attention is drawn most to the urgent tasks at hand. This is where the underlying environmental message comes into play.
An example is made of 'zero emission' electric cars, which in fact are only zero emission in terms of the car itself, but very likely emissions are involved in the production of the electricity used to drive the car. So though very valuable in terms of reducing pollution in city centres and while being better than petrol or diesel cars they're still cars and in their production and in their fuelling they do still cause emissions. But we need to move from the narrow focus on the car itself to the broader focus on the whole system to see this.
It is clear, according to the author that the way our brains work evolved for simpler times
'Our brain's perceptual apparatus has fine tuning for a range of attention that has paid off in human survival. While we are equipped with razor sharp focus on smiles and frowns.......we have zero neural radar for the threats to the global systems that support human life.'
He then talks about positive approaches to dealing with our current pressing environmental issues.
Note: If you're looking for a self help book to improve your focus and enable you to become more successful, this probably isn't the book for you.
Focus by Daniel Goleman published (2013) by Bloomsbury.