The Art of Systems Thinking

The book explains at length what is a system and the significance of systems thinking. Feedback is fundamental in the Systems. No feedback, no system. The book is divided into clear divisions viz.  The concept of system explained at length, the feedback system, mental models, learning as a system, thinking as a system and finally drawing conclusions.

The book examines the Loops of Feedback– reinforcing and balancing, explaining and illustrating with examples. The book goes on to examine how the reinforcing feedback loops, or positive feedback loops, occur when an. initial change is reinvested to further that change in the future. The bigger the initial push, the bigger the consequential push.

They build momentum. Balancing feedback loops, or negative feedback loops, on the other hand  are circles of cause and effect that counter a change with a push in the opposite direction. Balancing feedback loops bring stability or stubbornness to a system (depending on how it is perceived), so they are essential and pervasive. The basic structure of a balancing loop involves a gap between the goal (or desired level) and the actual level.

Balancing processes always try to bring conditions into equilibrium. The book explores the mental models and the factors that influence them. It refers to the mental models as floaters we see in our eyes. It was fascinating to read some of the examples listed out which the common man would have discarded as read several time. A must read, possess it and use it in academia

The Science of Self Talk

The book is written in a lucid style meant for anybody with a rudimentary knowledge of personality. It delves into the concept of self talk – It could be negative or positive; based on the past or on the future. It hammers home the point that one should listen to the self-talk and identify the patterns. It is interesting to note how a positive input can turn a negative feedback loop into a positive one. It examines at length the constructive self-talk vs the destructive self-talk.

It goes on to explore the 5 important traits of personality at length. Openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness and neuroticism. Openness includes novelty, curiosity, imagination and the like. Conscientiousness has to do with orderliness and industriousness. Extraversion is an orientation to the outer world. These people have high energy and ae very active. Introverts are just the opposite. Agreeableness has to do with the sensitivity towards others feelings and a desire for harmony and co-operation. Neuroticism is a disposition ti unpleasant emotion like anxiety, anger, depression and insecurity. Those who score high on this trait are also susceptible for low tolerance for stress!

The book cruises through the concept of learned helplessness, the Pareto principle  and finally focusses on self leadership. A book meant for the beginners. It provides a good insight into the concepts. Good read.

 

Love and The Turning Seasons: India’s Poetry of Spiritual & Erotic Longing by Andrew Schelling

Love and The Turning Seasons: India’s Poetry of Spiritual & Erotic Longing by Andrew Schelling
Love and The Turning Seasons: India's Poetry of Spiritual & Erotic Longing

The book has been well researched. the text made good reading but the poems did not. perhaps the vernacular poems would have made a better impact. don’t know. I wouldn’t recommend the book to anyone to buy.

Today I am Carey by Martin Shoemaker

I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book that spanned over 3 generations of family saga. the author has touched on the fine points of the relationships subtly through the eyes of a humanoid who has the sensitivity to deal with it all. The Alzheimer’s disease and its concerns were dealt with sensitivity. the joys of childhood of Millie were so succinct and vivid. The ego battles between Wayne and Millie were so live. The Author has a knack for creating the family tussles, concerns and problems with ease. Book is meant for those who like to read tales spun with sensitivity.

The Subtle art of not giving a *uck by Mark Manson

Read the book don’t get put off by the title. I set aside the book after reading the first few pages saying it’s not worth a read since every second sentence had the F word. The title has over 5 million copies sold. All of them could not be wrong! Curiosity got the better of me and picked it up to read. I am glad I did that.

The author has made a few poignant observations. For instance, ‘the desire for more positive experience is itself a negative experience. And, paradoxically the acceptance of one’s negative experience is itself a positive experience. What creates or positive experiences will define the negative experiences. Similarly, the positive and negative emotions are explained – the negative emotions call for action.

He lays a lot of stress on the values. It is the values that determine the matrices by which we measure ourselves. The values cannot be undermined. He narrates the incident of the loyal Japanese soldier who was stranded in Lubang for almost 30 years and continued his fight for his empire even after WW II was over! That is the strength of the value of loyalty.

Life has its share of problems and the author in his inimitable way explains that the secret sauce is in solving the problems. Happiness comes from solving the problems. Accepting responsibility for our problems is the first step towards solving them. He cautions the readers  that nobody is responsible for your situation but yourself.

He also discusses the relationships between individuals. For a healthy and loving relationship, there has to be giving and receiving rejection if necessary.

Finally the life is compared to a set of dealt cards. Some get better cards than others. But the real game lies in how you play those cards. The finesse,  the play, the risks that one takes determines the consequences.

I would like to read it once again. Mull over the points highlighted by me and would certainly recommend the book. Worth a read.

Becoming

Michelle Obama – the first African American to become the first lady, has chronicled her journey in her book.

She, in her memoir ‘Becoming’ draws a picture of an ambitious, lower middle-class lass focusing on academics to raise her economic prospects.

The book takes one through her experiences from childhood in Southside of Chicago to the most popular address in the world. Her meeting with Barrack Obama and the subtle romancing to the marriage vows, the trials and tribulations of balancing motherhood and work makes one identify with the first lady. It’s the narrative of an intellectual who stood by her husband’s side during the journey to the white house, has raised two daughters, balanced work and motherhood. It has a few lighter moments of her growing up years captured succinctly. She has captured her private and public life with equal ease.  The style of writing is simple, appealing and makes one want to read on.

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