"Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read." Groucho Marx

Friday, January 3, 2014

Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes by Maria Konnikova

For me this was a three-star read but it will easily warrant a higher rating from someone with a more developed interest in the subject matter. I started with gusto but at about the halfway point my interest started to wane and the last half was a struggle. To the author's credit, I can't imagine any less talented writer would have been able to actively engage me that far and certainly not kept me involved enough to actually finish. The irony in my struggle to pay attention was that ultimately, this book was all about paying attention. Konnikova teaches readers to engage and focus on a singular task, eliminate distractions, and rule out snap, perception-based decisions. As if that weren't difficult enough, all that should be accomplished while staying mindfully aware of the present. She uses the adventures of Sherlock Holmes as a basis for her teachings showing how the super sleuth mastered his mind to solve crimes while his counterpart often made incorrect conclusions based on perceptions and opinions born of limited experience.

Meditation is an important part of my daily routine and a great deal of Konnikova's teachings mirrored the lessons I have received from various meditation teachers. Although meditation isn't mentioned until page 144, anyone with meditation experience will pick up on that underlying theme from the beginning. This book again confirmed for me the value and importance of my meditation practice. 

Konnikova summarizes the process of our ability to recall information by tying the learning process to mindful thinking about the subject. Interest and motivation in and toward a subject lead to engaged mindful thinking resulting in improved memory recall. She also notes that we are not actually meant to multitask and will learn and remember much more effectively by focusing on one thing at a time. She counsels several times throughout the book that choosing to do nothing is still a choice, a good reminder for me as I have a tendency to procrastinate action items. I have been focusing on cultivating a beginner's mind in all aspects of my life. Zen teacher, Shunryu Suzuki, put a point on this concept when he said, "In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, in the expert's mind there are few." My interest in retaining a beginner's mind made Konnikova's following quote especially poignant for me: "...no matter how expert we think we are at something, we must remain mindful and motivated in everything we do." 

You will find an official book description at: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18079825-mastermind.

No comments:

Post a Comment