Focus - Daniel Goleman

What do a world-class athlete, a star rapper, and a high-performing executive all have in common? Focus – how well they pay attention to what matters most for their performance. Focus is the hidden ingredient in excellence – but a different kind of focus matters for each of these achievers.

For the athlete, how well she can concentrate and ignore distractions predicts how well she will do in upcoming contests. For a rapper engrossed in “free styling,” composing a rhyming rap as he goes, the kind of focus that counts is open awareness, where his mind drifts free to find those rhymes in the moment.

And for executives there are three specific kinds of focus that make the difference between mediocre and star performance: on themselves, for the self-awareness that lets them manage their inner world well; on others, for the empathy that lets them build effective relationships and interactions; and on the larger systems in which their organization operates, which dictate what strategy will work best.

I detail all this and more in my new book, Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence. Focus delves into new, surprising findings from neuroscience labs and explains why attention is a little-noticed mental asset that makes a huge difference in how well we find our way in our personal lives, our careers, as parents and partners, and in virtually everything we do. Like a muscle, use attention poorly and it withers; work it in the right way and it strengthens.

In the new normal we are inundated by a sea of distractions. Attention has become a mental ability under siege. We need to get smarter about how to maintain our focus.

Specs for Microsoft’s Next CEO

There are three kinds of focus every leader needs: 1) an inner focus for self-awareness and self-management; 2) a focus on others for empathy, clear communication and interpersonal effectiveness; 3) and a systems focus, reading the outer world in order to come up with an effective strategy. At Microsoft a failure in a wider focus seems to have had negative consequences:… Read more »

What I Learned While Writing Focus

I have been tracking the field of attention for about 30 years. My dissertation as a graduate student was actually on meditation, and meditation as a way of managing stress reactivity. A lot of us who were interested in it were trying to shoehorn it in, but the faculty wasn’t interested. They thought it was a crazy… Read more »

Leaders Need Three Kinds of Focus

Daniel Goleman, author of “The Focused Leader,” explains why leaders need to cultivate a triad of awareness — an inward focus, a focus on others, and an outward focus. Watch the video at


How Emotionally Intelligent Are You? Here’s How To Tell

By Carolyn Gregoire What makes some people more successful in work and life than others? IQ and work ethic are important, but they don’t tell the whole story. Our emotional intelligence — the way we manage emotions, both our own and those of others — can play a critical role in determining our happiness and success. Plato said… Read more »

Systems Blindness: The Illusion of Understanding

Here was the dilemma and opportunity for a major national retailer: its magazine buyers were reporting that close to 65 percent of all the magazines printed in the United States were never sold. This represented an annual cost of hundreds of millions of dollars to the system, but no one party in the system could… Read more »

Q&A: Daniel Goleman, author and psychologist, on finding focus in a world of distractions

Nearly 20 years ago, New York Times science reporter Daniel Goleman wrote a book that reshaped offices, classrooms and interpersonal relationships around the world. Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ became an international sensation. It topped bestseller and “most influential books” lists and sold five million copies worldwide. Goleman had a hit on his hands. But he didn’t… Read more »


Daniel Goleman on The Colbert Report


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Date City Venue Country
Daniel Goleman in
Rhinebeck, New York
Omega Institute, Rhinebeck, New York United States

Mind Whispering with Tara Bennett-Goleman


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