Photo credit: Henry on Flickr
I’ve been reading as much as possible the past few months, simply because I’ve missed making time for learning about bigger topics and exploring themes from new angles. It doesn’t hurt that I’ve had Essay Club and also quite a few plane rides, i.e. excuses to turn off the webernets.
Things I’ve been thinking, reading and writing about:
• Rapid cognition, i.e. snap judgements and the science behind them. What makes someone great at sizing up situations and people quickly and correctly? Is it possible to train myself to be better at this?
• How and why do women and men behave and think differently in the workplace, and how can we better equip both sexes for success?
I’m sure we could have a fascinating chat over coffee about how these themes are all interrelated in my head; this is a work in progress. Maybe I’ll write about it here again as I tie things together and unravel them again. In the meantime, here are some excerpts from some really good books I’ve read in the past six months.
Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell
In my favorite chapter, which revolves around the decision-making process of USMC Lieutenant General Paul Van Riper, Gladwell quotes Riper as saying: “You disaggregate everything and tear it apart, but you are never able to synthesize the whole. It’s like the weather. A commander does not need to know the barometric pressure or the winds or even the temperature. He needs to know the forecast. If you get too caught up in the production of information, you drown in the data.”
The crux of the entire book for me is here: “The key to good decision making is not knowledge. On straightforward choices, deliberate analysis is best. When questions of analysis and personal choice start to get complicated—when we have to juggle many different variables—then our unconscious thought processes may be superior.
It seems that the father of the unconscious [Sigmund Freud] agreed: ‘When making a decision of minor importance, I have always found it advantageous to consider all the pros and cons. In vital matters, however, such as the choice of a mate or a profession, the decision should come from the unconscious, from somewhere within ourselves.'”
Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg
On Mentorship: “We need to stop telling them, ‘Get a mentor and you will excel.’ Instead, we need to tell them, ‘Excel and you will get a mentor.’”