Books and Me: E is for Exceptional

Book Title :  E is for Exceptional

Author:  Rob Yeung

Who doesn’t want to be exceptional? Who doesn’t want to be successful? These are some of the reasons why books under the category ‘Success’, ’Self help’ and ‘Personal Improvement’ sell. Infact, picking a book in this category would actually be difficult if you walk into the book store. This is because this genre is probably has the maximum number of titles published, has maximum number of books sold and has a wide range of authors with multiple titles.

I picked this book up, just to read one in this genre for a change.  As a serious student of Vedanta I am beginning to stop trying to become anything. It may sound a bit absurd, the subject of Vedanta is built on different assumptions; and much deeper truths. If you are interested in knowing more I will invite you to read my weekly posts under the category ‘Vedanta and Me’

Coming back to the book, the author Rob Yeung states that there are eight capabilities that distinguish exceptional people from the rest. They include Awe, Cherishing, Authenticity, Centredness, Connecting, Daring, Citizenship and Visioning.

Except for a few words – most the remaining are fairly banal across literature in this genre.  The author also acknowledges that many of these practices or the terms used may not be very new or different; but he makes an earnest request to attempt turning some of these capabilities into actions and persisting till success is achieved.

Some of the interesting things I found in this book include:

  1. Using a wide range of examples from various paths of life
  2. Make number of references to scientific studies to arrive at conclusions
  3. Taking each of these capabilities deeper and breaking them down so as to make them actionable
  4. Providing number of opportunities, to test these capabilities via exercises
  5. A few instances where widely accepted practices have been proven factually wrong through scientific study

Personally I liked the notes section at the end of the book that provided a number of references for serious further reading.

If you are looking at wanting to prune your actions and/or behaviours on the professional plane, this would be a worthwhile book to kick start your journey.

The One Minute Teacher by Spencer Johnson & Constance Johnson

The one minute teacher

The one minute teacher

I am a person who is not a great fan of these quick fix solutions to learning and work. I feel happy working hard and thinking hard to come up with more than ordinary. It sometimes looks funny with much of the world looking at smart work. But over a period of time I think my approach though conservative is still sturdy and keeps me going, rather happily! When it comes to two-minute solutions; the ones I like the most are Maggi Noodles, McDonalds Burger and other instant food mixes. The only place where I indulge even though I don’t believe in these quick fix traps is with books – I just buy them even in doubt (true bibliophile) and read them voraciously. This is one more book bought that way!

The “One Minute Teacher” was bought because it had the word “Teacher” in it! There was no other reason honestly – especially with my bias towards more tougher and sturdier solutions and books. I did read it over my evening coffee, all in one go. Since I had started teaching I am constantly looking to know more about teachers, teaching and education as an industry. Education as an industry and teaching in specific has been a fascination since childhood. Probably that’s why I always get entangled in some academic initiative. Why all this when this looks like a book review? Truly after reading this book I was in for some surprise. This book has little to do with the hard part of the teaching profession, has very little to do with the soft part of being a teacher, and personally I expected something totally different from the book – which I obviously did not get. But I did get something else.

The book gives a 3-step approach (each requires one minute commitment) to learning. You set your one-minute goal; then provide yourself one minute praises (whenever you do something good) and give yourself one-minute recoveries (whenever you do something wrong)!! Now that’s not rocket science or some great thing which makes the book a must read. But just the one minute praises section was worth the price of the book and the amount of time I spent reading it. We spend most of our days acknowledging our errors or mistakes and most people almost always identify your mistakes or help you with suggestions for improvement. How often have you stopped even for a second and said to yourself, “Man, you have done a great job. You are good” At times I feel we may have done it – but how frequently. When we make statements of this nature it improves one’s self-esteem and improves our ability to go ahead with a much better attitude. And more importantly the author asks why not appreciate our good work even on small wins? It was a feel good read. I learnt something from this book and I will make sure I find more opportunities to appreciate students at every opportunity without thinking that I may be exploited or made fun of as a teacher!

Though there are similar interesting anecdotes and learnings from the book on goal setting and recoveries, I feel they need more thinking (very personal view). Otherwise it is a very good and easy read, makes one feel good and definitely gives you a tip or two for learning to feel better. If there is one thing that I would suggest is a better title – “One minute Learner” rather than a teacher – felt like a misnomer.