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Maybe not so simple
on February 11, 2013
The title of this book intrigued me. But the book falls short of what it promises. It's still worth reading, and for some people it could be life-changing. Mostly, those would be people whose days are consumed by fighting one problem after another. If you're such a person, get this book.
For everyone else, this book is probably not going to be very helpful. Though I had originally expected it to be a source of great insight, it wasn't. Perhaps my expectations were unduly raised when I read the well-written introduction. Speaking of which, I found it odd that the author stated later in the book that people generally don't read introductions and then went on to reiterate some points from the introduction. If he really felt this way, he should have made those points in the text and not in the introduction.
Where I found the value in this book was in Part One of the three parts. The other two parts didn't seem grounded in reality, nor did they provide anything that struck me as substantive.
A key concept Mr. Blake makes clear is that you need to adjust your thinking such that you are for something rather than against something. One of his examples is "weight loss," by which most users of the term actually mean "fat loss." This is no minor difference. People who focus on weight necessarily do not focus on body composition. So they follow Covey's example of doing the wrong things.
But why focus on loss at all? Focusing on "losing" the fat puts you in a mindset of restricting your diet rather than optimizing it. During the winter, my body fat is usually around 6%. In summer, it's at 5%. This isn't because I "lose fat" but because I make positive optimization decisions that result in a slightly higher ratio of lean mass to fat. For someone with a bothersomely big belly, I suggest you stop thinking about "losing the gut" and start thinking about chiseling those abs.
This same mental alignment works for any endeavor I can think of, yet I find that people tend to prefer fighting something than building something. Do you want to "quit smoking" or do you want nice skin, pleasant breath, and good stamina? Which way is more motivating?
So getting the reader to understand the power of that alignment and providing some insight on how to make it standard operating procedure is what I see as the thrust of Part One. I like the way Mr. Blake gets this across.
It's different from the mindless "think positive" advice that has you writing affirmations (lies) on little slips of paper or lying to yourself in the mirror at the start of every day. Self-deception can make you feel better, but it brings you no closer to solution. The caveat to that is if you're in a negative state such as depression, then this gambit can help you proceed more confidently. However, Mr. Blake's approach strikes me as really the one to use. It's the approach I typically use. After reading the first three chapters, I decided to use this approach consistently.
I also like his tips on keeping your mind from being sabotaged by others. In particular, he was spot on regarding watching the news. I don't do the news, period. The content is typically wrong, nearly always negative, and seldom relevant to the life of the viewer, listener, or reader. By not exposing your mind to this pollution, you are already a leg up.
Finished with Part One, I turned to Part Two. This is where the disappointment began. The premise here is you need to have a daily period set aside for what amounts to tapping into "the force." Mr. Blake wrongly ties this into Einstein's formula for mass and energy, a mistake that simple calculations will show to be a mistake. But even without the calculations, the causation he assumes just does not arise from this equation.
He also goes on the redefine terms used in completely different contexts. For example, he says the Cohen brothers have it backwards in their portrayal of the matrix. In saying such a thing, Mr. Blake completely misses the point of the movie and completely misses the underlying problem with the Great Lies we are told by those in power.
If Mr. Blake wants to say he's tapping into the matrix of nature or the universe or whatever, that's fine. But just because the word matrix is used in other contexts does not mean it's used incorrectly or that everyone is talking about the same thing. Mr. Blake's matrix and the one in the Matrix movies can co-exist without any conflict. Simply choose a different word to describe one or the other.
When I finished Part Two, the author had not convinced me that I need to set aside 20 minutes a day to zone out, chill out, connect with nature, etc. Mr. Blake provided no evidence for the effectiveness of this, other than anecdote and a reliance on the idea that correlation equals causation. So it was with "you let this reader down" that I embarked upon Part Three.
The title of Part Three is "Transforming Ideas into Achievements." I finished Part III not having found this subject addressed in any meaningful way. The basic concept is "wish for it, and it will come." So much serendipity here, and yet again a reliance on idea that correlation equals causation.
Upon finishing the book, I went back to the cover. What immediately struck me was the subtitle is not accurate. Pick up any map, and what do you see? Detail! This book, as its title states, is about three steps. It is not about the entire journey. The gap between thinking of an idea and making it happen is often filled with thousands of steps. Those are not discussed in the book. In no way is this a map to anything.
I don't think Mr. Blake provided three simple steps. I think he provided one not so simple step, and that is the step of getting your head on straight. Does anybody not struggle with this, other than those who simply don't do it? Getting this right on a consistent basis is surely beneficial. But look at all of the famous and successful people who are nowhere close to this. If you think a little, you can probably work up a list of people who have this down pat but are struggling financially. I think it is one tool in a larger toolbox.
Part One was about getting the correct mentality. Maybe the other two parts were about keeping that mentality in place. If you have a ritual for that purpose, whether it be spitting over your shoulder or communing with nature for 20 minutes a day, there's what I got out of part Two. In Part Three, the anecdotes seemed to point all toward recognizing opportunity when it comes a knockin'.
This book runs 239 pages, including the introduction and the conclusion.