Monday, January 16, 2017

The Achievement Habit by Bernard Roth

Finally finished reading this book! I thought it was pretty good so I took lots of notes - which I've shared here. The book is based on Design Thinking and the principles are (according to the guy who's one of the founders): empathise, define the problem, generate a possible solution, prototype, test and get feedback. And the order is flexible.
The view you adopt for yourself profoundly affects the way you lead your life. It can determine whether you become the person you want to be and whether you accomplish the things you value. - Carol Dweck
So the first point that was made is that we give things their meaning. The second was that reasons are "just excuses prettied up." Which does make sense - we find time to do the things we want to do, and we make reasons for why we didn't do others. True, there might be extenuating circumstances, but that plays a much smaller role than you might think.

For example, I could have kept up my NaNo word count at the Balloon Fiesta. I just didn't because I didn't want to (and told myself I was tired).

The other point in chapter 2 that I liked was that making decisions is important. It's like what the conversation between the Cheshire Cat and Alice, where he tells her that if you don't care where you want to go, "it doesn't matter which way you do."

Chapter 3 was on reframing problems, trying to get to the route of it. Ask yourself "what would it do for me if I solved this problem" and see what the real problem is.

Chapter 4 I summed up as "We can learn from others - emulate their positive attributes and be careful not to copy their negative ones."

The next chapter was on doing. The book says that "small steps with accompanying successes lead to major life transformations", and to be careful of making decisions based on research because researchers have biases too. But the quote I liked best from this chapter was:

Doing takes intention and attention.

Chapter 6 was on language and I thought it was very illuminating. I didn't think of how small changes can have a big impact. For example "I want to finish this report and I'm tired" is more conducive to finding a solution to the problem than "I want to finish this report but I'm tired." which is more like an excuse. Other words include can't (helpless) and won't (volition).

The book's guidelines for conversations are:

1. Speak from your own experience and feelings as much as possible
2. One of the most difficult things to do is to listen to someone's story and not interrupt
3. The next most difficult thing if you're a listener is not to follow immediately with one of your own stories

The next part is on Group Habits and I think it applies mainly if you don't really know your group mates? I don't know but if it's people I know, I feel like I can be a lot blunter with them.

And then it's Chapter 8, which is on 'Self-Image by Design'. The thing to realise is that we carry traits from our parents, even if we don't want to. So what we have to do is to figure out our basic intentions and figure out how to achieve them, either by affirmation or changing something.

The book recommends this series of questions to find your self-image:

1. Who am I in terms of what I have?
2. Who am I in terms of what I do?
3. Who am I in terms of my being?

And remember, your self-image does not have to stay stagnant.

The second last chapter is on the big picture. Remember that life isn't always linear. And that if you mess up, 'fess up. Lying about your mistakes always makes things worse.

Problem: "any situation we want to change"
Life: "consists of solving a series of problems."

I thought this book was really good (and my summary only scratched the surface so go borrow it! It's on the NLB eRead's thing!). It's full of practical tips, and a lot of what it says makes sense. I'd recommend it to people who need something to motivate them to change/start taking action.

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