We hope your past week in hockey has produced extraordinary results. There's that word again; results. So what is the factor in getting those results? Your individual level of concentration. That's the theme of this week's message.
At Victorious Hockey it is our goal to not only help mold developing young prospects into college hockey players, but to also help deliver the tools needed to make that journey a success. A player's ability to concentrate will not only pay off on the ice, but its also valuable in the classroom, and in life.
Coach Littler asked us to share this information from Dan Schawbel
Why Professionals Need Focus
I recently had the pleasure of catching up with Daniel Goleman, who is an internationally known psychologist that lectures frequently to professional groups, business audiences, and on college campuses. Goleman reported on the brain and behavioral sciences for The New York Times for many years. His 1995 book, Emotional Intelligence, was on The New York Times bestseller list for a year-and-a-half; with more than 5 million copies in print worldwide in 30 languages, and has been a best seller in many countries. His new book is called, Focus: The Hidden Ingredient in Excellence and he has an instructional CD based on the book.
In this interview, he talks about the science of attention, the three types of focus, why it’s so hard for people to pay attention today, and more.
What got you interested in the science of attention after your previous books? Why is the word “focus” so important in both our personal and professional lives?
Leadership best practices are often build around emotional intelligence. When I wrote my book “Emotional Intelligence,” I was harvesting a new crop of scientific findings on the brain and emotions, which had huge implications for everything from teaching kids to leadership.
Attention science is now at a parallel place:
A sudden abundance of brain science, and new insights on the importance of attention in our lives – in everything from education to leadership.
There are many varieties of attention, technically speaking, each with their best applications.
Getting a job done well requires applying concentration, for instance, while creative insights flow best when we are in a loose, open awareness. Our focus matters immensely in everything we do: the better we can pay attention, the more excellent the results – again in everything from learning to leadership.
And, I’d add, love. Can you name the three types of focus and explain them? “Inner” focus refers to self-awareness and self-management: how well we can tune in to our guiding values, for instance, or know our strengths and limits – which in turn gives us a realistic sense of self-confidence—and also handle our distressing emotions so they don’t interfere with getting things done, marshal our positive emotions to stay motivated in working toward out goals, and bounce back from setbacks.
“Other” focus describes how well we attune to people: our empathy, which allows us to understand how people perceive things, how they feel, and what we can do to help them be at their best. And tuning in to others this way provides the basis for skill in competencies like motivating employees, persuasion and influence, negotiation and conflict resolution, and — increasingly important – teamwork and collaboration.
“Outer” focus has to do with how well we can sense the large forces that shape our world – whether organizational dynamics, like whose opinion matters most for a decision, or economic forces such as how a new technology will roil a market, or environmental trends like the new value placed on lower-carbon processes.
Outer awareness allows a leader, for example, to formulate a winning strategy that anticipates what’s coming.
Why is it so hard to pay attention and focus in our society today? Could focus be a bad thing for some people?
Attention has come under siege, largely by technologies like email, texts, smartphones and the like. These invite the outside world to impinge on what had been private time when we could focus on what we need to do. While all these technologies have tremendous advantages, we have to learn to be more intentional about focusing – for instance, carving out a space in our day when we can concentrate without such distractions.
We can also strengthen our focus – concentration is like a mental muscle.
There are workouts for the focusing circuitry in the brain which can help us sustain focus better.
I don’t think focus is in itself ever a bad thing. But focus of the wrong kind, or managed poorly, can be. I interviewed a woman who was exquisitely attuned to the nonverbal signals people are constantly sending, but who managed what she picked up poorly – for instance, over-reacting to the negative signals she picked up in a meeting she had arrived for late.
Can you give an example of someone who made focus a priority and then succeeded?
Steve Jobs comes to mind. It’s intriguing to me that he was a longtime Zen practitioner – meditation is one way to strengthen the brain’s attention circuitry.
He brought a single-minded focus to shaping Apple’s winning business strategy. One of his strengths was in paring away distractions – as when he winnowed Apple’s product line down to a handful of products with just a few variations, a controversial decision at the time, but a remarkably winning strategy in the long run.
Another is Susan Butcher, the woman who four times won the Iditarod race, a two-week competition with dog sleds over 1,100-plus miles of Arctic ice and snow. Her training regimen for herself and her dogs took prolonged focus throughout the entire year, and her personal focus during the race was extraordinary.
What are three ways that your Smart Practices can help people thrive in the workplace?
There are several lessons we can learn from those who, like Jobs or Butcher, have succeeded by dint of strong focus. One is that smart practice is not just 10,000 hours of repetition – that’s a myth. You need to use those hours of practice correctly:
1. Pay full attention. Watching ESPN while you workout at the gym won’t help your brain learn to get better at whatever you’re doing.
2. Get expert feedback on what corrections in your performance will improve your game.That expert might be a mentor or executive coach at work, or a pro on the golf course.
3. Put in the time needed. The more you practice winning moves, the stronger the brain circuitry for them becomes – and the better you get.
Dan Schawbel is the author of the new book, Promote Yourself: The New Rules For Career Success (St. Martin’s Press).
If you have not created your JuniorHockey.com Profile yet, get it done. If it's already complete, try to get it updated every week. College coaches have the ability to monitor your progress by getting alerts whenever your profile is updated.
If interested in learning more about Victorious Hockey and what our company can do for you, I want to hear from you! Please feel free to call me directly.
Let's have a great week of hockey!