Malcolm Gladwell and the value of thinking

14 Jan

Five minutes ago I read the introduction to his new book, What The Dog Saw. Please always read the introductions to books. You can skip the forward if you like assuming it’s not by the author but please read the introduction. Gladwell’s intro concluded with this thought:

“Good writing does not succeed or fail on the strength of its ability to persuade. It succeeds or fails on the strength of its ability to engage you, to make you think, to give you a glimpse into someone else’s head – even if in the end you conclude that someone else’s head is not a place you’d really like to be.”

I love it. So many books out there are trying to argue a point or to teach you something but they do it in a way that is not engaging and does not make you think. They are just sharing information with you, not realizing that I often put books down around page 75 that are boring me.

Ishmael is a book I bought many many years ago at a used book store because they had so many copies I had to take a look. Crazy story! It’s about an ape who can talk with his mind and wants to save the world by teaching his pupil what’s wrong with how we live. Of course I don’t agree with all that he had to say but man did he make me think. I probably have read it five times by now.

Working with college students for so long drilled this concept into my head. Very few of them will accept information from me unless I could show them the value of it. Most of the time that meant first helping them to bring to light the depth of their own struggles and only then would they suddenly be in a posture of learning.

Last night Dawn was up late working on her laptop and so I grabbed my new Patrick Lencioni book on leading meetings thinking I’d read a chapter or two before falling asleep. By the time she came to bed two hours later, I had finished the book and written four separate emails to myself with major thoughts about how I lead meetings. (As a side note, that is not one of my strengths. Leading meetings that is. I’m very good at emailing myself.)

I don’t buy all of his conclusions and don’t yet know how his business-world examples translate into my sphere of influence. But I can’t remember the last time I thought so critically and constructively about how I lead groups of people. And even though I didn’t get as much sleep as I would have liked, I can’t wait to jump into these emails I wrote myself and see what I came up with.

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2 Responses to “Malcolm Gladwell and the value of thinking”

  1. ashley January 14, 2010 at 2:57 pm #

    I love the blogging spree.

  2. Shane January 14, 2010 at 6:54 pm #

    We’ll see how long it lasts:)

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