Time for a book post. I view reading as being instrumental to the self-education process; who better to learn from than the great people and thinkers of the world? These book review posts are not going to be a regular occurrence, theoretically. They are just meant to discuss books that have been very influential for me and helped shape or alter my current way of thinking. Not every book you read is going to change your life, and so not every book read is going to be mentioned here. Just the heavy hitters.
For the first book review, I wanted to start with a book that is somewhat simple, yet had a pretty profound impact on my mind and thought process. The Goal was actually assigned reading for a class in my business program is one of the first books that I really read critically (I highly recommend it if you are new to this world). Since then I have come a long way in my note-taking abilities, and refined an indexing system for cataloging those notes. But that is for another time. Until then, ladies and gentlemen: The Goal.
Written by Eliyahu Goldratt, The Goal has been recognized as a top management seller since its release in 1984. But don’t let that date confuse you, this book is timeless. The book is written in the form of a novel, and though Goldratt is no novelist himself, the story keeps you plugged in enough to follow along and think through the issues he brings forth, and you will find your own thinking evolving throughout the course of the book.
Essentially there are two key thoughts that come out of this read. The first is that nothing that we as humans say are facts or truths really are. They are just insights we have made or rules we have formed that haven’t been proven wrong yet by nature. There is no such thing as a truth, these are just assumptions that haven’t been proven wrong yet. This is the basis for science as we know it, and the scientific method of hypothesizing and testing our hypothesis (haven’t seen that since grade school). While this may seem obvious at face value, the shift in thinking can be profound. In essence, take nothing at face value, never be afraid to challenge the status quo. Time moves ever forward, and as we gather more data and information on the world around us, these thoughts we once held as rules may now be obsolete. So don’t settle to just do things because that’s how its always been done. Challenge that, test your own hypothesis, and see for yourself. At the end of the day, we are all little scientists ourselves.
That takeaway comes very early in the book, and forms the basis for how the book addresses its main objective: how to achieve a goal. Here Goldratt introduces his famous topic, the Theory of Constraints. This is a five step process Goldratt details out to keep someone constantly moving forward. In essence, the theory is that one should first define their goal. Their real goal. Make sure it aligns with your macro level objectives. Then, identify what is keeping you from achieving that goal, figure out how to turn that in your favor, and spend the rest of your time working to exploit that opportunity. Put it above everything else. But the train doesn’t stop here. Constraints are always shifting, and soon enough you will find yourself stalled in the face of another issue that is blocking you from achieving your goal. So the process starts all over again. This is the basis for continuous self-improvement, something we all should be striving for. The journey never stops, there is always some issue we are confronted with that we need to learn how to get around or deal with or learn from.
This is also the basis for goal setting. Look at yourself, and assess what you truly want in life, whether that be something as simple as buying a new book in the next week, or learning a new language, or getting that dream job in the future. Once you’ve identified that, assess what is keeping you from achieving that. Be honest with yourself, you have no reason not to be. And then elevate that opportunity above everything else, for any other issues should fall in line once you have addressed that major bottleneck in your goals.
Goal setting is one of the most fundamental yet insightful activities that you can do, and Goldratt does an excellent job of laying out how exactly to go about goal-setting, and the art of continuous improvement.
As always, please let me know what you think, especially if you have looked into this book. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org, feel free to drop a line at any time for any reason.