Eleven Rings

Eleven Rings documents Phil Jackson’s unprecedented number of NBA championships. From his days as a player, through coaching the Bulls and Lakers, Jackson’s unique style is informative for anyone in a leadership position.

Basing much of his approach in the tenets of Zen Buddhism, the book is a pragmatic introduction to many of the concepts discussed in this blog (e.g., focus).

Among many leadership gems, one I particularly enjoyed was, “As a leader your job is to do everything in your power to create the perfect conditions for success by benching your ego and inspiring your team to play the game the right way” (p. 334).

For anyone interested in adding aspects of Zen philosophy into their leadership or personal life, wanting to diversify their understanding of leadership, or simply intrigued by one of the most successful modern coaches, Eleven Rings is a worthwhile read.

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Thinking, Fast and Slow

If you are interested in finding out more about why and how humans make choices and our (ir)rationality then Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman is definitely for you. This book has informed, influenced, and changed the way I think about many things, and provided the psychological understanding and evidence for many other important ideas.

An example of this is the parameters under which skill and expertise can be developed. With the recent attention given to Ericsson’s 10 year/10,000 hour rule of expertise, it has become apparent that the rule holds up better in some environments and settings than others. Kahneman identifies 3 conditions that must be present for skill/expertise to develop:

1) an environment that is regular enough to be predictable (for example, this is the purpose of the rules in sport)

2) an opportunity to learn these regularities through prolonged practice (Ericsson provides some specific parameters for deliberate practice)

3) rapid and clear feedback about the correctness of thoughts and actions (Ericsson and others also identify the critical role of a coach/teacher/mentor in skill development)

If these conditions are not present, then skill/expertise cannot reliably be developed. An example of this would be the stock market. This is why so many (and the existing evidence) argue against the utility of financial advisors. While some have experienced success, it is primarily due to luck as opposed to skill/expertise that is readily repeatable.