Top critical review
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Relevant and interesting discussions, but lacks focus in the end.
on 1 November 2013
Paying attention, remaining focused and excellence are obviously topics of
considerable interest to most of us in a relentless, busy and distracting world.
Daniel Goleman is renowned for his work in Emotional Intelligence. I found
this book entertaining, in parts interesting and easy to read throughout.
Including the many references to the role of the parts of brain, for which
ordinarily I would have minimal interest.
I particularly liked the discussions about the good and bad effects of computer
games on attention, the fact that attention and excellence are linked, the
ability to selectively pay attention, emotional hijacks and the value of daydreaming.
Ironically, towards the end, I would have preferred this book to have been more
'focused' on personal excellence as it relates to our individual roles, rather than
meandering in the collective responsibility of a green agenda. That said, the narrative
on leadership does make some interesting points, albeit not too originally.
The book summarises the anatomy of attention, self-awareness, seeing
ourselves as others see us, reading others, the roles of empathy, social sensitivity
and leadership. In each topic, the role the brain plays and relevant anecdotes are
used, many of which are possibly already well known to readers.
This book is an easy read and held my attention throughout, but has the depth of a
conversation, rather than on being loaded with riveting research and original insights.
I felt that all too often the writer was stating the obvious, which could be as a result
of good writing in simplifying a potentially complex topic.
I came away feeling more informed about the role of 'focus' in our everyday lives, but
not in any way empowered to do anything practical or excellent. Which I suppose is why
I didn't rate the book higher. Its likely that my expectations are misplaced or I have
missed the point of the Writer's intention. Needless to say, many like me, will enjoy
the insights offered, yet without the expectation of a 'practical takeaway' would be more
satisfied. My expectation was that there would be a link to at least few practical steps as
suggested (possibly ambiguously) in the title.
In my opinion, the role of focus in saving the planet was so far removed from the erstwhile
discussions about personal behaviour, it made the chapter on the 'big picture' seem like
it belonged in another book. The relationship, while it does obviously exist, seems somewhat
contrived or misplaced under this book title.
That said, for the price, it is a worthwhile read that provokes one to pay attention, without
focusing on anything particular in the end.