(p. A31) Most successful people also have a phenomenal ability to consciously focus their attention. . . .
Control of attention is the ultimate individual power. People who can do that are not prisoners of the stimuli around them. They can choose from the patterns in the world and lengthen their time horizons. This individual power leads to others. It leads to self-control, the ability to formulate strategies in order to resist impulses. If forced to choose, we would all rather our children be poor with self-control than rich without it.
It leads to resilience, the ability to persevere with an idea even when all the influences in the world say it can’t be done. A common story among entrepreneurs is that people told them they were too stupid to do something, and they set out to prove the jerks wrong.
It leads to creativity. Individuals who can focus attention have the ability to hold a subject or problem in their mind long enough to see it anew.
For the full commentary, see:
DAVID BROOKS. “Lost in the Crowd.” The New York Times (Tues., December 16, 2008): A31.
(Note: ellipsis added.)
(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date December 15, 2008.)