What core elements make for a good book review?
It has often been said that those who can't create will critique. Perhaps there is some truth to this but since the dawn of time we have sought the silky words of those who can paraphrase those who produce. Whether it's recommendations from our friends, the yellow paperback Cliff's Notes or the likes of Yelp, we place some value on the perspectives of others.
Key number one to a good book review
A good book review does not require a good book, but it does require a book to review. One can compose a good review of a bad book. Any effort to review should start with the goal of extrapolating any nuggets of beauty, wisdom or functionality that can be gathered from the composition of the author. Benjamin Franklin said, "Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing." A review therefore should seek to bring out those values.
Key number two to a good book review
If you are going to write a book review you must first review a book. In essence we are all reviewers, unless we never read. Yet, some of those who review and help to bring light to a book worth reading or further draw out those concepts that add value to our experiences. Stephen King states it this way, "If you don't have time to read, you don't have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that."
Key number three to a good book review
As a good book should be informative, inspiring and/or helpful, so should a good book review be. If the purpose is to summarize, do it well. If the purpose is to criticize, do it with clarity. If the purpose is to glamorize, do it with perspective. Erica Jong wrote about the anxiety of writing, "I went for years not finishing anything. Because, of course, when you finish something you can be judged." Writing and review should also be composed with charity.
Business leaders need to clarify their values to enable their teams to achieve success.
While there are many things that make Gordon Ramsey unique and successful, his keys to helping businesses succeed have a few key principles.
Gordon Ramsey is back in the saddle, taking nightmare kitchens and working his magic to help them down the road to success. This newest version is called 24 Hours to Hell and Back, Wednesday nights at 9 PM on FOX. They say cleanliness is next to godliness, but many people don’t care about godliness anymore so cleanliness must be rapidly approaching the top spot. It is not coincidence that the first principle of success, and antithetically to failure, is that of the simple commitment to cleanliness.
If you have rats in your kitchen, you may have given up.
How much skill and effort does it take to keep rats, cockroaches, ants and other rodents out of a commercial kitchen? While there may be a cute Disney movie about the potential skills of certain rodents, the restrauntuers that Gordon works with have not discovered Remy. “Disgusting.” In episode 1 of 24 Hours to Hell and Back, the kitchen staff are caught on tape cracking jokes about the rats running through the kitchen. Success, like cleanliness, requires elbow grease. You have to be willing to see what is wrong and consistently work to keep the commitment to a sanitary kitchen on lock.
If your cold storage is full of rotten meat, you may have given up.
Whomever does the scouting for the businesses for Chef Ramsey to transform must make the walk-in one of their first stops. Prior to this undercover version, Gordon would arrive at a restaurant and order nearly everything on the menu. It was surprising how many business owners didn’t shut down their own operation and just start clearing out their gross cold-storage. Perhaps the only thing more surprising than the disgusting kitchen is just how many people are oblivious of these conditions or that it’s a problem.
If your team doesn’t follow basic sanitary principles, you may have given up.
If you are new to the Gordon Ramsey Kitchen Nightmare scenario, you will soon learn that no one is safe from Gordon’s ire. As he burrows into the issues he demonstrates a skill for sniffing out the issues that are often obvious but that those in a position of leadership have been unwilling to address. Regardless of the pile up, Chef Ramsey will get around to the owner and remind them that if this transformation is going to last they have to get their will and their skill back into their business. The culture and results of the restaurant are measures of the applied influence of the owner. When the owner has given up that standard filters through all operations.
There is a great video of a speech by Navy Seal Admiral William McRaven who remarks, “If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed.” He elaborates that by making your bed every day you build discipline while starting your day off with a simple accomplishment to set the tone. Build your pursuit of success one habit at a time. Growth is often the result of several small steps rather than giant leaps.
Similarly, Gordon Ramsey brings a giant spotlight into failing businesses and points to aspects such as cleanliness that should be very obvious. Whether your train has fallen off the rails and you need to right your course or you building your team towards the goal of consistently making progress, the simple discipline of cleanliness should not be lost. These principles are keys for leading yourself as well as leading others and building teams.
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If water chooses the path of least resistance, humans are attracted to the course of greatest complication. We do it to ourselves. Trading clarity for complexity and flash for function when neither serve our vision or our goals. How do we ensure that we aren't over thinking our processes and missing out on our opportunities?
We over think. We over analyze. We freeze when if we would begin moving in a direction we will find that we can still steer our ship in a different direction. We are so afraid of failure that we fail to seize upon an opportunity. Something to remember is that failure to act is often more detrimental than failing while we act and learning as we go.
Have a vision.
Put your plan in motion.
Adapt as you gather new information and experiences.
Inability to adapt
In contrast to failure to launch, what happens when we are making progress but we refuse to receive information, analyze results and adjust our course? Darwin's concept of survival was built upon a species ability to adapt. Adaptation does not mean that you are the smartest, strongest or most capable but that you are willing to respond appropriately to new data along the way. Having vision and momentum does not guarantee success.
Do not lose sight of your vision.
Do not lose your thirst for knowledge.
Do not lose your hunger to improve.
The attraction to complexity
If something can be made more complicated we will find a way to do it. There is a fine balance between too much and too little information and both can be deadly.
Break things down to their most basic functions and ensure that the core values are provided the greatest measure of operational energy. Fine tune but don't be so attracted to being flashy that functionality is sacrificed. Regularly ask, "Are we missing something?" while also asking, "Are we making this harder than it has to be?"
Keep it simple.
Be clear, consistent and accountable.
How does one avoid being an idiot in the analysis and conclusions drawn from information gathered? Do not trust anything that one cannot confirm for oneself, right? Under such a premise, one must trust one’s own ability to discern information and draw appropriate conclusions. If one trusts one’s own abilities to filter through multiple points of data and infer correctly from the information drawn from, how consistently can the self-source evaluation be trusted? If one trusts one’s own self some/most of the time this may only be a safe bet some of the time at best. If one trusts one’s own self always, one can safely self diagnose one’s own self as an idiot.
If one does not want to be an idiot by way of self trust, then one may conclude that they should seek out the input and knowledge of others. When wise counsel is sought, one must still, at some point, rely upon one’s own internal discernment abilities to determine whether the analysis performed by others is reliable. Even smart and reliable people have limitations and can be wrong from time to time, so no one person can be trusted 100% of the time. If one trusts others some/most of the time this may only be a safe bet some of the time at best. If one trusts others always, one can safely be diagnosed by others as an idiot.
The only option that remains is a hybrid of the previously discussed options, inform one’s self while learning when to trust the input of others. Yet the paradox continues, can one trust what we ubiquitous analysts call the YOATKTD metric – Your Own Ability To Know The Difference. As it turns out, in the effort to avoid being an idiot, the only options are to trust one's self or to trust others and in the final analysis one very likely will find that there is little than anyone can do to avoid it.
Jon Isaacson / IZ Ventures - Creative business solutions. We help you connect, collaborate & conquer. #MTWSL
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