‘Thinking Fast and Slow’, by Daniel Kahneman
Daniel Kahneman is an Israeli-American psychologist who, in 2002, won a Nobel Prize (shared with Vernon L. Smith) for his work in economic science.
I found this book absolutely fascinating as Kahneman, bit by bit, uncovers the hidden biases that influence our decision-making. His work involves describing the two parts of the human brain that he calls System 1 and System 2. The role of the two systems are completely different. System 1 is the intuitive part of the brain that makes decisions quickly based on past experiences, existing beliefs and prejudices and System 2 works much more slowly and is analytical, deliberate and consciously effortful.
We like to think we are rational creatures and that our conscious thoughts can override our biases but science has proved that the ‘boss’ of our brain is System 1…click here to read more
Reviewed by Richard Jackson – Dec 2018
‘Calm Parents, Happy Kids’, by Dr. Laura Markham
All parents have struggled with the challenge of guiding and teaching their little ones (and in my opinion, those who haven’t aren’t parenting!). The perennial question, whether to punish and/or reward has always haunted me. We’re supposed to “reward the behaviour we want” right? And Supernanny’s naughty step worked every time, didn’t it? How about praise, surely that’s a good idea? How do you teach children consequences without these tools? They’re all sensible if used proportionately, aren’t they?
According to Dr. Laura Markham, the jury is in and there is absolutely no doubt in the verdict; the way to raise well adjusted, confident and happy children is to abandon punishment and reward entirely. Her assertion is based on the last 20 years of research in child psychology and neuroscience and she makes a compelling and wonderfully articulated case. So if you’re like me, someone who winces at the…click here to read more
Reviewed by Mike Barton – Nov 2018
‘An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth’ by Chris Hadfield
What a wonderful book this is. It’s the story, written in his own words, of the astronaut Chris Hadfield, who you probably remember sang, somewhat poignantly in retrospect, ‘Space Oddity’ whilst he was on the International Space Station.
This is not a personal development book and yet it is one of the most inspiring books on personal development I have read.
Chapters with titles such ‘Have an Attitude’, ‘Sweat the Small Stuff’, ‘The Power of Negative Thinking’, ‘What’s the Next Thing That Could Kill Me’ are deliberately designed to mislead the reader, for instance the one on negative thinking is actually about preparing for the worst in order to survive for the best…click here to read more
Reviewed by Richard Jackson – Oct 2018
‘Stop Thinking, Start Living’, by Richard Carlson
What a great provocative title for a book recommended by Mancroft International, the company that promotes thinking skills! The sub-heading for this book is ‘Common-sense strategies for discovering lifelong happiness’ which sums it up pretty well really.
My initial reaction to the book when I first browsed through it some years ago was one of scepticism because early on in the book the words ‘Happiness Training’ appeared and too much stuff published with the word ‘happiness’ in the title is a bit fluffy for my taste although, of course it’s what almost everybody wants more of. However, I persevered and was very pleasantly surprised to find, in my opinion, a well written book with a pragmatic approach to the everyday problems with which we are all faced with fairly frequently.
I like Carlson’s quote that being happy is not necessarily easy, in fact here at Mancroft, we hold the belief that it is much easier to be cynical and pessimistic than it is to be happy and optimistic…click here to read more
Reviewed by Richard Jackson – Sept 2018
‘The Biology of Belief: Unleashing the Power of Consciousness, Matter & Miracles’ by Bruce H.Lipton. Ph.D.
This book was given to me by the Janet Stiff, a close friend and the wife of Barry Stiff, with whom I set up Mancroft International many years ago.
Bruce Lipton, the author of the book, wrote the original version ten years before this second edition and it was the result of being in a very dark place. His personal life, to use his words was in a shamble and he more or less decided to accept his ‘fate’ and make the best of it.
His Eureka moment came when he was reviewing his research on the mechanisms by which cells control their physiology and behaviour. To use his words, because the early part of the book can get very dense in scientific language, he suddenly realised that a cell’s life is fundamentally controlled by the physical and energetic environment with only a small contribution by its genes.
From this realisation, he began to explore more and more how the basic tenet of the traditional Newtonian view of life that we are determined by our genes may not be the full story…click here to read more
Reviewed by Richard Jackson – July 2018
‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time’ by Mark Haddon
The author, Mark Haddon, writes with incredible empathy about a 15 year-old boy – Christopher Boone – who has Asperger syndrome; I have copied the following from The National Autistic Society website in case you don’t know what Asberger Syndrome is:
“Asperger syndrome is a form of autism, which is a lifelong disability that affects how a person makes sense of the world, processes information and relates to other people. Autism is often described as a ‘spectrum disorder’ because the condition affects people in many different ways and to varying degrees.
Asperger syndrome is mostly a ‘hidden disability’. This means that you can’t tell that someone has the condition from their outward appearance. People with the condition have difficulties in three main areas. They are: • social communication • social interaction • social imagination.
Christopher finds it difficult to look at people, to read facial expressions, he hatesclick here to read more
Reviewed by Richard Jackson – June 2018
What do leaders really do? by Jeff Grout and Liz Fisher
This book was recommended by a good friend. As it says in the foreword to the book, there are a huge number of books available on the subject of leadership but many of them tend to concentrate on the processes and models around the role. This book has a more practical application, in my opinion, because it concentrates on how the role is carried in real life by real people by interviewing many leaders as research for this book.
It is probably useful to list some of the people interviewed because you will then have a better idea as to whether you will find the book relevant to you:
Sue Campbell CBE was appointed Reform Chair of UK Sport in 2003
Sebastian Coe, (Baron Coe) Chairman of the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and, of course, the holder of two Olympic gold medals
Nasser Hussein, England cricket team captain between 1999 and 2003
Reviewed by Richard Jackson – May 2018
‘Influence – The Psychology of Persuasion’ by Robert Cialdini
This is one of the most interesting and powerful books that I have read; in fact its power is in its simplicity. I’d like to think it’s probably like the experience that many of you have when attending a Winning Edge programme for the first time. With some of the things you heard on the programme you may have been thinking: “I think I already knew that but I didn’t know I knew” or, “I’ve been doing that for years but I didn’t why it was so effective”.
The theme of this book is that we all are vulnerable to influence or persuasion from others but most of the time we are unaware of it. This is because, as we know from the Winning Edge programme, our lives are the result of around 95% habit, in other words, we are, for the most part, living sub-consciously and while we are in this automatic mode of thinking and behaviour we can be influenced and manipulated by others more easily.
There are Six Key Areas that Cialdini details where we can be subject to the persuasion of others and he provocatively calls them ‘The Weapons of Influence’…click here to read more
Reviewed by Richard Jackson – April 2018
‘Fire & Fury: Inside the Trump White House’ by Michael Wolff
Well, someone had to do it and I took on the onerous task of testing confirmation bias to within an inch of its life and thankfully it is alive and well. Everything I believe about Trump has been vindicated by reading a book written by someone who has the same opinion as me.
Yes, of course Donald Trump is neutral and of course it’s my interpretation – and Michael Wolff’s – that has me holding him in such scorn but, hey, if someone else agrees with you then you must be right – right? Wrong, but the book does make fascinating reading.
Michael Wolff, to quote from Wikipedia was born 27th August, 1953 and is an American author, essayist, journalist, and a columnist and contributor to USA Today, The Hollywood Reporter, and the UK edition of GQ. He has received two National Magazine Awards, a Mirror Award and has authored seven books, including Burn Rate (1998) about his own dot-com company and The Man Who Owns the News (2008) – a biography of Rupert…click here to read more
Reviewed by Richard Jackson – Mar 2018
Damon Hill: Watching My Wheels – My Autobiography
This is a bit of a niche choice I appreciate and I realise that many of you may never have heard of Damon Hill. He was a Formula 1 Grand Prix driver from the 1980s and 90s and was the son of Graham Hill, also a Formula 1 driver. Graham was the only driver ever to win the Indianapolis 500, the Le Mans 24-hour race and the Formula 1 World Championship, which he won twice.
Graham Hill was piloting his own plane when he was killed in 1975, along with five other members of the Embassy Hill Racing team; Damon Hill was fifteen years old at the time. In fact Graham and Damon Hill were the first father/combination to win the F1 Championship.
This autobiography is the story of Hill’s struggle with coping with the loss of his father, whose death meant his family went from relative wealth living in a 25-room mansion, to much reduced circumstances. He worked as a motorcycle courier and also as a labourer to pay for his education. The book charts his entry…click here to read more
Reviewed by Richard Jackson – Feb 2018
‘The Psychopath Test – a journey through the madness industry’ by Jon Ronson
This is an intriguing/frustrating/amusing book written in a style that is sometimes called faux naïf – look it up.
Jon Ronson has written many books and appeared on many television programmes and taken part in numerous radio shows. Amongst his many talents is being a stand-up comic and he wrote The Men Who Stare at Goats; the basis of which was used for a screenplay of the film of the same name starring George Clooney, Jeff Bridges and Ewan McGregor.
Ronson’s schtick is debunking psychiatry and related disciplines and this book takes a sometimes hilarious and frequently confusing romp through several seemingly unrelated incidences, experiences and people but he manages to make some kind of connection, however tenuous between all of them.
One of the most interesting and disturbing themes in this book is Canadian psychologist Bob Hare’s 20-question psychopath test – as in the title of the book. Once you are aware of it, it is almost impossible, as Ronson found, not to apply…click here to read more
Reviewed by Richard Jackson – Jan 2018