An important component for Mastery at Work is ability to focus attention and concentrate on particular activity or task for a given period of time. Focused attention is the ability to focus on one activity without being distracted by other stimuli. Attention can be automatic or self-regulated.
Routine and repetitive tasks generally require scant attention; this is where automatic attention comes into play. Automatic attention is relatively inflexible and it cannot cope with the unexpected. A process which is very well defined and laid out for employees generally requires automatic attention. As result of routinely doing the same activity as per process. While this minimizes errors, it gives raise to inability to inability to cope with sudden and unexpected situations.
On the contrary, self-regulated attention requires focusing voluntarily on the present moment, on the task on hand. It requires a person to be open to new learning experiences, accepting of themselves and the situations they are in and also being curious about things around them.
Self-regulated attention or sustained attention is also our ability to avoid distractions which could be both external (noise, light etc.) and internal (thoughts). It is important to understand that distractions lead to waste of time and reduce productivity, they deeply inhibit our ability to immerse ourselves in learning, creating new ways of working as well as prevent us from getting into flow of things.
Biggest issue with distractions is it has a profound impact on our ability to reflect and gain deeper insights into any subject.
What does focused attention require? Being focused requires will power and self-control. The will power to maintain focused attention and self-control to get it back the moment you detect your mind drifting from the work you are doing. This kind of awareness is called meta awareness. The key to focused attention is training your mind to realize the drift happening and the ability to get in back to object of focus.
Last but not the least, experts in any subject are great at focused attention and are great planners and executors while novices in any subject generally concentrate on getting routine tasks done and are generally people who execute on the ground without really putting in efforts in planning or understanding the nuances of how it works! Be an expert, be Focused!