Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Way We are Working is not Working

My new favorite book is The Way We Are Working Isn’t Working-The Four Forgotten Needs That Energize Great Performance.

This book is written by Tony Schwartz who authored another great book called The Power Of Full Engagement.

What I found interesting about the fact that I love this book is that one of my highest values is work ethic, and a lot of what Tony is advocating essentially involves less work ethic. See what he says in HBR in For Real Productivity, Less is Truly More.

The book cited a study that Malcolm Gladwell also cited in his best selling book Outliers: The Story of Success. "People at the very top don't just work harder, or even much harder than everyone else. They work much, much harder". The gist of this is that almost anyone can be good at anything if they work at it hard enough. It does have to do with the number of hours put in provided those hours are high focus.

"A growing body of research suggests that we are most productive when we move between periods of high focus and intermittent rest. Instead, we live in a gray zone, constantly juggling activities but rarely fully engaging in any of them-or fully disengaging from any of them."

There is a chapter entitled We Can't Change What We Don’t Notice. " We are already the most over informed, under reflective people in the history of civilization."

One of the things I loved about the book was that they strongly endorse success habits. I am completely in sync with what the author has to say. "Will and discipline are wildly overrated. That's why we struggle so hard to make changes that last. Even when the need for change is obvious and our intentions are strong we often fall short."

There was an entire chapter called sleep or die. Over the years, I have changed my view, in that I no longer think that sleep is for wimps. I believe sleep is necessary. "No single behavior, we've come to believe, more fundamentally influences our effectiveness in waking life than sleep."

There is a chapter on the poverty of attention. This is very similar to what I view on the myth of multi tasking. "Everyone knows what attention is. It is the taking of possession of the mind, in clear and vivid form, of one out what seem several simultaneous possible objects or trains of thought...it implies a withdrawal from some things in order to deal effectively with others."

"Once we're distracted by something new, we often forget about the original task. Given the limits of our working memory, out of sight often literally means out of mind."

The book pulls together many of the concepts that I currently believe in. One principle is pulsing from high intensity to low intensity. Another principle is success habits.

There is a chapter on health and exercise and clearly I am a health and exercise guy so resonate with that.

It is a well-researched, well-written book and I highly recommend it.


At 6:00 PM, Anonymous Mark said...

I just wanted to say: YES. I finished reading this book last week, and have been extolling its virtue ever since. I will definitely have to check out his other book you mentioned.


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