Train Your Brain For Success: A book review by Bob Morris

Train Your BrainTrain Your Brain For Success: Read Smarter, Remember More, and Break Your Own Records
Roger Seip
John Wiley & Sons (2012)

How to increase personal growth and professional development with accelerated learning to achieve “record-breaking” results”

Roger Seip is not the first nor will he be the last to observe, “People don’t tap into their full potential.” Why not? He suggests two “dire” mistakes: “First, they look outside themselves for the answers. They believe that there’s a magic bullet that someone has forged, and if they could only get their hands on that elusive magic bullet, everything would change for them…After people resign themselves to the fact that there is no magic bullet, they commit the second mistake. They make the process of growth way more complex than it really is. In an attempt to take personal responsibility and fully engage, all but a very wise few overcomplicate the simple steps that create huge personal growth.” What to do and how to do it? This book is Seip’s response.

He recommends a process by which to achieve incremental but compounding improvement of skills that will, over time, increase memory retention capacity, strengthen reading and reasoning skills (i.e. comprehension, making decisions, solving problems), increase active and productive engagement, improve allocation of resources (especially time and attention), clarify core values and a compelling vision, nourish a sense of purpose, and meanwhile sustain what Seip characterizes as “aggressive mental care.” He urges his reader to embark on a journey of self-improvement that never ends.

My earlier reference to “compounding improvement” will not be found in Seip’s book but I am certain he agrees with me that any process “feeds on itself” and is usually self-sustaining, for better or worse. In economics, for example, compound interest builds value in a savings mechanism of some kind but increases debt as an unpaid balance on a credit card. Or consider habits. It is far easier for bad ones to become worse than for good ones to continue, much less improve. It is imperative, therefore, that those embarked on the “journey” Seip recommends combine tenacity with patience. Do not misunderstand Seip’s use of the word “simple.” He means it in the same sense that Oliver Wendell Holmes once did when observing that he “wouldn’t give a fig for simplicity on this side of complexity” but would give his life for “simplicity on the other side of complexity.”

These are among the dozens of passages I found to be of greatest interest and value, also listed to suggest the range of subjects covered during the course of the book’s narrative:

o The Teachability Index (Pages 8-12)
o The Mental File Folder System 22-25)
o Taking Optimal Care of Your Brain (36-39)
o “The Very Best of All Time” (52)
o Three Reading Habits You Can Reduce (56-58)
o The Balance [i.e. Reading Speed and Comprehension] Pages 71-73
o Sense of Urgency (86-92)
o Three Emotional Barriers, and, Mental Barriers (106-115)
o The Myth of Balance (120-121)

Seip Comment: “Balance doesn’t exist in our society, and even if it did you wouldn’t want it.” (Page 120)

o Chapter 11: The Two-Hour Solution: How to Create a Record-Breaking Schedule (129-141)
o For God’s Sake, Stop Multitasking! and, Work in Bursts, and Work During Primetimes (148-150)
o [How to] Become a Spectacular Listener (154-155)
o How to Rank Core Values (166-168)
o A Structured Way of Answering the Other Big Question, “What Do I want to do?”(174-179)
o [How to] Practice Aggressive Mental Care (189-192)

Be sure to read and then re-read very carefully his discussion of five “Energy Management Tools” in Chapter 16. Extending the journey metaphor a tad, even if you were a new vehicle (let’s say a Land Rover ATV), you could not go anywhere without “fuel.” The same is true of the process of compounding improvement.

No brief commentary such as mine can possibly do full justice to the scope of material that Roger Seip provides in this volume but I hope that I have at least suggested why I think so highly of Train Your Brain for Success. Also, I hope that those who read this commentary will be better prepared to determine whether or not they wish to read the book and, in that event, will have at least some idea of how to find and develop top global talent that could perhaps be of substantial benefit to their professional development as well as to the success of their own organization.

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