Daniel Goleman is a psychologist, science writer and author of the new book Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence. He also recently published this article Forget Delayed Gratification: What Kids Really Need is Cognitive Control on the Time:Ideas website, and although I am struggling with my own focus, even as I write this post, Goleman’s argument is compelling and clearly deserves some serious attention.
Something I often hear from clients and occasionally even find myself wondering is ‘Why am I meditating, again? What is the point of coming back to my breath again and again?’ While there are immediate gains to setting time aside to get in touch with one’s own breath, including feelings of peacefulness and cultivating calm energy in our own bodies and minds, is there an bigger or better gain to be had from practicing breathing and training the mind in this very methodical way?
In his Time article on Cognitive Control, a longitudinal study published in 2011 is highlighted that has shown that there may well be additional benefits to focusing. The New Zealand study shows that the ability to manage attention and focus directly correlates to health and wealth as we grow older, and this ability to focus even outweighs family of origin and IQ in the attainment of these goals! Wow! Have I got your attention now?
On the Huffington Post there is an excerpt from Goleman’s book Focus called Why The 10,000 Hour Rule is a Myth. There is a commonly held belief that after 10,000 hours of doing a thing, that one gains mastery of that thing. Goleman upends this idea by pointing out that a few additional factors must be considered in this equation, including the level of one’s individual focus during these hours. What is referred to as ‘deliberate practice’ (as opposed to going through the motions without attending completely to the task at hand) along with ‘well-designed training’ over time are the true keys to mastery, says Goleman.
Where is your focus?