Friday, May 24, 2013

Achieving goals, smartly


Randeep Wadehra

Smart Thinking by Art Markman PH.D.
Hachette. Pages: x+259. Price: Rs. 299/-

There are any number of people who were excellent in academics at school and college, but have turned out to be either non-achievers or low achievers in their professional lives. On the other hand, many great achievers were either dropouts or below average students. What could the reason for this be? Success is often said to be the result of ‘one percent inspiration and hundred percent perspiration.’ However, Markman has stood this conventional wisdom on its head. He stresses upon the value of smart thinking, or rather smartness per se, which comprises smart habits too. According to him, smart thinking requires developing smart habits, acquiring high quality knowledge and applying such knowledge for achievement of goals.

As a first step towards developing smart thinking, the author recommends examination of one’s behavior. This will facilitate identification of such bad habits as hold one back from becoming a smart thinker. Once this identification process is completed, the next step would be recognition of smart habits and making them a permanent part of your behavior. Towards this end, Markman first explores the nature of habits, how they are formed, and how they can be changed. Since smartness is not about having potential, but application of high quality knowledge for achieving goals, one must be able to discern such knowledge and acquire it. For this, one must understand how the human memory works, and the limitations to what one can remember. Since, all this has to be done in the real world, it is equally important to understand how this world functions.

This book reminds us that forming of smart habits is a dynamic process wherein a set of good habits may need replacement after a while, because either they have outlived their utility or they have turned bad. Yes, good habits can turn bad too, because the overall environment – social, professional or other related – has undergone change. Therefore, there has to be a consistent “mapping between action and the environment” and “performing that action repeatedly”. Once the right sort of habits have been formed, such habits facilitate performance of desirable behavior in a natural manner. In other words, you do not have to make a conscious effort to behave smartly; it comes as a reflex action vis-à-vis a given situation like someone driving a car through heavy traffic and braking and steering effortlessly.

Indeed, reading this book was a pleasure. The style is conversational and the language lucid. More important, the various methods explained in this book appear easy to understand and even practical enough for real life application. However, the readers must understand that self-help books like this one make plenty of suggestions that appear attractive and wise. However, ultimately, it depends upon us as far as understanding various concepts that are explained in the book and their adoption in our everyday life.
Personally, I read it with great interest.

Published in The FinancialWorld on May 24, 2013

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