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Your Brain at Work: Strategies for Overcoming Distraction, Regaining Focus, and Working Smarter All Day Long Hardcover – October 6, 2009

4.7 out of 5 stars 236 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Simply put, this intriguing book offers fascinating research about the brain’s functions, limitations and capacities, and it teaches us how we can “direct” our own brain chemistry in order to achieve fulfillment and success. Well worth reading and ingesting these skills.” (Stephen R. Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People)

“This is the best, the most helpful, and the brainiest book I’ve read on how the brain affects how, why and what we do and act.” (Warren Bennis, Distinguished Professor of Business and University Professor, University of Southern California and author of On Becoming a Leader)

“This book will improve how you work—by showing you how your brain works!” (Marshall Goldsmith, author of What Got You Here Won't Get You There)

“Rock makes the science of your mind accessible and relevant.” (Daniel Akst, Fortune Small Business)

“Rock deserves an ovation for his writing and direction.” (Fort Worth Star-Telegram)

“Rock makes the science of your mind accessible and relevant.” (Fortune Small Business)

“…highly informative look at the way our minds work at work.” (St. Paul Pioneer Press)

About the Author

David Rock is a consultant and leadership coach who advises corporations around the world. The author of Coaching with the Brain in Mind, Quiet Leadership, and Personal Best, he is the CEO of Results Coaching Systems, a leading global consulting and coaching organization. He is on the advisory board of the international business school CIMBA and the cofounder of the NeuroLeadership Institute and Summit. He lives in Sydney, Australia, and New York City.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: HarperBusiness; 1 edition (October 6, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061771295
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061771293
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (236 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,833 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Marsha Lucas on November 15, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
David Rock and I share a similar view: People become more open to changing the behaviors which hold them back when they can understand the brain science behind it all. If you teach a man to do a task, he'll complete the task; if you teach him how his brain is wired, and how to optimize and build it, he'll be one of the most successful (and well-adjusted) people you've ever met.

In "Your Brain at Work" David speaks clearly and meaningfully -- with humor and relevance to everyday life -- about why it is our brains work better under some circumstances than others. He's frank about the limitations of our cognitive abilities -- even the brightest among us -- explaining the "why" and "how" of the limits, and, most importantly, "how to make it better" without frazzling yourself with multitasking, split attention, and other inefficient ways of trying to do your work.

He manages to do this with warmth and humor, all the while bringing the reader inside the findings of some of the top researchers in neuroscience.

I'm a neuropsychologist by training, and now do psychotherapy with high-functioning, successful people who complain about feeling depleted, overwhelmed, out of balance, and burned out. I'm grateful to have this book to supplement our work on the brain-based issues that create the perpetual sense of swimming upstream.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Your Brain at Work does an excellent job synthesizing a large body of scientific research on cognitive neuroscience and interpreting the results in a way that helps readers understand how the brain works and how to make it function more efficiently.

The book is laid out in a format of a theatrical play, where it introduces two ordinary people and follows their respective days. Both of the characters are facing a variety of challenges, very similar to the ones that millions of professionals deal with on a daily basis. After presenting a particular scenario and having one of the characters go through it, the author then performs a thorough analysis of what each of the characters did wrong and how they could have approached a particular challenge or activity in a much more efficient way. The best part is, obviously, that the analysis and the corrections in the behavior are all based on the most recent research in cognitive neuroscience.

The narrative is broken into different "acts" according to the progression of the work day of the characters and the type of mental processes that are being discussed. I think this is a particularly good structure because it a)personifies the cognitive challenges by bringing up prototypical characters that most of us can relate to b)organizes the context in a way that is logically progressive and easy to follow and c)makes the book easy for later reference.

As far as the content, to use the book's own language, a big dopamine rush is how I would describe it. It is really full of a good and useful insight, at the same time boasting a high level of writing that uses plenty of metaphors and is very easy to read (took me 5 days of reading before bed to finish).
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In this review I will:

a. summarize the book's content,
b. provide an overview of the amazon reviews of this book, and
c. evaluate the book's merits.

CONTENT

The overarching message is that we benefit ourselves when we engage in metacognition (Rock's term). We improve ourselves by becoming more aware of how our power of awareness functions. Rock often expresses this idea metaphorically by telling us that it is to our advantage to develop a strong "director."

When we enhance our self-awareness, we appreciate that human beings are motivated by five types of phenomena: Social status, Certainty, Autonomy (independence), Relatedness (social connections), and Fairness. Enhancement of these five dimensions is experienced as rewarding. Diminution along any of these dimensions is just as aversive as physical pain.

When we are suffering because one or more of these dimensions has been threatened, we can use three procedures to restore our mental well-being.

The first is labeling. By describing an emotion we can reduce it. If someone insulted me, I can tell myself that I am angry. That will make me feel better.

The second procedure is reappraisal. By changing our perspective or our interpretation of a situation, we can lessen the negative emotion. If someone insulted me, I can take his perspective and realize that he is so upset that he is not responsible for his actions. Or, perhaps I could reinterpret the situation and realize that what I took to be an insult might not have been one after all.

The last procedure is lowering expectations.
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THE "GUTS" OF THIS BOOK

This is one of the most practical `neuro' books on the market at the moment. It is aimed at the `lay-person' rather than the `neuro -enthusiast'. The focus of the book is based on Rock's belief that ....'by understanding your brain, you increase your capacity to change your brain.' As a `neuro-enthusiast and translator' I agree with him completely, and so do neuro-specialists such as Dan Seigel. However, it might be more accurate in the case of this book to say `by understanding your mind, you increase your capacity to change your brain'. This book is about more than the physiology and processing power of the brain. Many of these practical tips have been tried and tested for years but we now have evidence to show why they work. Rock clearly outlines these for us.

WRITING STYLE

David Rock uses three parallel techniques to involve us. These run throughout the book:

* A story - The story of Emily and Paul allow us to identify with their thinking at work.
* A metaphor - The use of a stage and actors enable us to easily understand the roles of various parts of our thinking
* A reference to research and the physical brain - Research data that underpins the book. Mercifully he avoids using large numbers of neuro- jargon. He focuses on the role of the pre-frontal Cortex (the director) and the way in which we use our `director' in dealing with chemical responses. He introduces us to three positive chemicals; dopamine (feel good), nor-adrenaline (excitement) and oxytocin (collaboration).

The combination of all three of these works because it draws people with different thinking preferences into the content.
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