Three good books on success, mastery and intelligence.


Good Books

Good Books

Knowing that I would have time to read in England, before I left, I bought two new books, David and Goliath, by Malcolm Gladwell and Mastery by Robert Greene. I also took my Kobo e reader. E readers are great, I take mine with me whenever I expect to wait for an appointment, but nothing beats a real book for serious reading. Trying to refer back to earlier pages is frustrating on the Kobo and highlighting or margin scribbles impossible.

I almost finished David and Goliath on the flight over to the UK. While there, I finished it, read a good chunk of Mastery and struggled through many pages of “The Art of War” by Tsun Zu on my Kobo.

Reading the two books both helped me with ideas for my business and added to the unsettled feeling I have had since my return. Another intriguing book I am now reading is “Successful Intelligence” by Robert J. Sternberg.

What have I got out of this reading?

From Malcolm Gladwell – I have read and enjoyed all his books and find it amazing that one of his ideas; that it takes 10 000 hours to become an expert at practically any endeavour, has been adopted by the self-help / personal development industry as gospel. However in this book, the idea of thinking differently about problems, challenges, opportunities was the big one.

Using the David and Goliath story, he demonstrates that on paper (parchment?) David had no chance against the mighty Goliath with his armour, size and physical strength. David triumphed because he broke the rules, capitalised on his own strengths, speed, agility, better eyesight, devastatingly accurate sling expertise and focused all these on Goliath’s weaknesses; poor eyesight, lack of mobility and dependence on close combat.

There are many other examples of the supposed underdogs succeeding because they recognised a strength and played by different rules.

In Mastery, I was fascinated by the author’s theory of how early man not only survived in an inhospitable environment with few physical advantages or defences against predators, limited means of catching prey for food, but developed into the most successful species of larger mammal on the planet. (some would argue that point).

He sets out 5 “Strategies For Finding Your Life’s Task” and provides examples of successful people who have used each of the strategies.

The author identifies 3 steps or modes as keys to mastery and refers to these as “The Apprenticeship Phase”. He refers to Malcolm Gladwell’s 10 000 hour theory.

There is much more in the book, including a section on “Social Intelligence”.

I am only part way through the third book, interestingly, although written in 1996, it supports many of the arguments and ideas found in the other two books. The most significant is the body of evidence showing that the analytical intelligence so valued by schools, universities and traditionally trained recruiting personnel is no guarantee of success in the real world of business.

The book looks in-depth at why the traditional IQ type tests do not select the best candidates for higher education or leadership roles in business.

This book confirms my own deeply held conviction that some of life’s most important lessons cannot be learned in a classroom, they have to be learned through experience, taking risks and stretching ourselves to take action before we have all the answers.

Here is the link to the 3 books on Amazon, yes it is my affiliate link, so I will get a commission if you order through this link but it will not cost you any more. Commission is always useful, but I would rather you read the books for their value wherever you order them from.

I have added a fourth book to the list, it is by Chris Pocock, a friend and fellow Polo Crosse player in Zimbabwe. It will be of interest to those of you who lived in Rhodesia, still live in Zimbabwe or have had  any connection with Polo Crosse

This is not just a book review / book promotion post, but after my previous two long posts, it will be short.  I am in the process of a slight change of direction in my business activities, it is a work in progress but I intend that this blog will continue much as it has. I will strive to write about stuff that interests, entertains and I hope inspires you.

I am both intrigued and encouraged by the success of James Altucher’s blog Altucher Confidential. He writes brutally honestly, often depressingly about his thoughts. He covers subjects that most of us do not dare and often exposes his inner fears in ways that many readers will identify in themselves.

The reason I am intrigued is that his blog has a huge number of subscribers (over 100 000 I believe), his Facebook page has  290 000 likes. He has tapped into a mother lode of untapped demand for honest, authentic writing even if (or because?) some of that holds a mirror for readers to see their own fears and failures.

I am not setting out to be another writer in his style, but it does make me think carefully about the future of this blog.

January is almost gone, how is your year shaping up? leave a comment, let us know.

Peter Wright

Book graphic by Free clip Art

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  1 comment for “Three good books on success, mastery and intelligence.

  1. Roberta
    January 30, 2014 at 8:37 am

    2014 – so far so good – except for the frigid temps thanks to the arctic vortex. Some thing about frigid temperatures. I slow down and get a bit depressed; don’t want to do anything.

    The books you write about all seem to be excellent. So now, instead of having 5 books on my ‘to read’ list I have 8. I will get to all of them…just maybe not all this year.

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