Smarter, Faster, Better Book Review


When I read a book, it is usually one that is beneficial for me. It must have characteristics that will either improve my life or add to my spiritual development. I picked up Smarter, Faster, Better: the Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business due to its catchy title and because it was related to productivity. I have an issue with becoming easily distracted and I am always searching for methods that will give me a motivational charge.

Smarter, Faster, Better was written by Charles Duhigg, a reporter for the New York Times for over ten years. His writings earned him a Pulitzer Prize and he has an MBA from Harvard Business School. He is also the author of The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do In Life and Business, a book that I am currently reading. I enjoyed Duhigg's writing style because of its conversational yet sophisticated tone. He created interest in subjects and stories that would have never caught my attention. Somehow, he made details about airplanes and teachers working with data sound exciting. You could feel the effort he had placed into the book simply by viewing his focus on detail and fact-checking.

I felt a connection with a few of the chapters in the book, for they related to my personal experiences in the workplace and my past work with youth. The chapter "Absorbing Data" created a perfect example of what can happen when people become more hands-on instead of becoming distant through technology. I worked with youth for a number of years and have witnessed band-aid program (a term coined by my mentor) after band-aid program. Grants would bring software, new initiatives would be implemented, but still, it did not reach the essence of the child's need. This chapter shows the results of making data matter to you. The teachers presented in the book changed their students and school by deleting indifference from their actions.

In the chapter "Focus," Duhigg writes about the power of gaining and losing focus. He uses an example of a successful plane ride and a preventable plane crash. I, personally, have a fear of planes, so this chapter truly affected me. It shows how one small error can lead to catastrophic consequences. This chapter caused me to look at my own life and to see if I was mindlessly heading in the direction of chaos due to my decision making.

I also felt a connection when reading the chapter "Teams" because I went from one team to another this year when I started a new job. At my old job, there was a smaller number of employees. I was familiar with the company because I had worked with them for approximately five years. Everyone pitched in to help one another and it operated like a family. At the new job, there are more employees. The environment is entirely different because it is in a quiet neighborhood whereas the old job was on an extremely busy street. There was always action. This chapter discusses why some teams work and why others fail. It showcases how changing the simple demographics of a group can have astronomical effects. At the new job, it is taking a while to adjust because I am on a new team. I had to alter my thinking patterns a bit in order to become more of a team player. It was not until I had played for two sides that I realized how important it is to have a strong group. One small change is not tiny at all.

The only issues I had with this book was the fact that the author added an appendix and a set of notes at the back of the book. The appendix, in my opinion, was not necessary. The appendix was somewhat of an overview of the book and I felt as if Duhigg were repeating himself. The notes made me annoyed but I understood why he placed them there. He wanted to be as accurate as possible and there were so many references, I may dedicate a period of time to reading the ones mentioned. However, the notes made the book seem never ending. I wish that he had added the notes at the end of every chapter because viewing them all at once was overwhelming.

I would recommend this book to those who are involved in teams, manage teams and for people who are seeking to improve themselves. It would be a wonderful addition to a book collection dedicated to personal development.

If you want to learn more about Charles Duhigg, you can visit his website at www.charlesduhigg.com


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