The Secrets to Peak Performance

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3 Types of Focus

I wrote out some notes from Prof. Daniel Goleman talk at google on his new book: Focus: the Hidden Driver of Excellence. He stated the 3 types of focus anyone with a sphere of influence requires.

Inner focus: The ability to manage oneself.

Outer focus: The ability to read other people effectively and to be able to persuade other people.

Systems awareness: useful for strategic thinking – ability to be aware of what is going on in our world with respect to technology, the economy, and so on. For example, if your boss gave you a query at work, that is a threat. So is global warming. However, in our society today,  the latter is usually relegated to “nothing”.

In this short note, I will focus on inner focus.

He defined inner focus as the ability to work at one’s best. This is sometimes called Good work, and it occurs when we have “maximum neuro-harmony”. Good work tend to reflect when we fulfill 3 main requirements:

The best set of skills for the job

Love for the job

Perfect alignment of the job with one’s ethics

To also get to the state of Good work, psychologists have figured out that cognitive control (also called delay in gratification) is non-negotiable.

Two Studies

The famous marshmellow test: four-year-olds were given one marshmellow, and they were instructed that if they could wait ten minutes without eating the marshmellow, they will get an additional one. Some grabbed and some waited. About fourteen years later, the kids that delayed gratification (waited for 10 minutes) had a 200 point average advantage on the SAT, among several other achievements at older age.

In a similar study in New Zealand about a thousand 4-8 year-olds were tested for cognitive control. 32 years later they were tracked down. The study revealed that their cognitive control predicted health and financial success better than their IQ or the socio economic status of their family.

So, maybe, we all have to learn cognitive control. And this leads us to the question: is cognitive control teachable? 

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