Career, Personal

Book Review: How to have a beautiful mind

This is a long overdue post of my second book review. So I will get straight to the point. I will start by saying that this is the first De Bono book I’ve read and I found it pretty average. It started off with a promising premise that by the end of the book the reader’s conversational abilities will have substantially increased. However, I found this not to be the case.

The book is easy to read with short, some times too short, chapters that describe various conversation techniques. The idea of having a beautiful mind, based on De Bono’s perspective, is to be able to share your knowledge and let other people admire you for your ability to be open and interesting at the same time. Chapters on ‘How to argue’, ‘how to agree’, ‘how to express you disapproval’ etc, are all presented in a nice, concise way. However, I quickly lost interest in the book and by the end it was an uphill struggle to finish it off. There are some really good ideas which are worth mentioning, like the fact that our instilled conversation model is inherently wrong and that it is not a case of us-against –them. Instead, the idea is to find common ground and develop as a human being through the power of the mind, by being open to other people and their ideas. Another interesting idea was the practical implementation of the “six thinking hats”, but this is just a sum up of common practice. I believe that common practice and common sense can be used instead to accomplish the same results.

All in all, it was a good and easy read but an average one at the same time. I don’t think I gained much reading this book but for some people certain conversation techniques may be useful and enhance their ability to interact with other people.

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Career, Personal

Book Review: Brilliant NLP

Brilliant NLP was the first book in my list. I decided to start my 1-book-a-month challenge with this book as it comes highly recommended and has a few high reviews on Amazon. I don’t usually get excited by self-help or self-improvement books and this time was no different. However it was the first book that I’ve picked up about Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) and I was intrigued by the whole premise.

The book is well written and easy to read without overcomplicated terminology. Instead, the NLP techniques are presented in a simplified way (too simple sometimes) with easy walk-throughs and examples on how to practice and implement them. The book, and in extension NLP, revolves around the premise that we, as humans, have the unique ability to be in control our thoughts and feelings and that, as with everything else, practice can “make better”. This is not the first time that I’ve come across this theory and I personally feel that even though it sounds simple enough, it requires tremendous amounts of self-discipline and training in order to rise above one’s thoughts and feelings and acquire control. However, it is achievable and mastering such a skill, I would guess, can lead to amazing results. So this was the first part of the book, which I found enticing and I was looking forward to reading into the various techniques that could help me work towards achieving this goal.

Unfortunately the rest of the book was disappointing and I found the techniques and practices described childish and inefficient. I only tried a couple of them and this was enough. NLP is based on some very powerful ideas but the practical implementation within this book resemble a quick-fix or a trick to help you get through “it”. A 10-minute exercise is not going to change years of bad habits (in the thought-process or expressing ones feelings).

My overall impression is that the book is easy to read and there are some interesting ideas which seem to reinforce what I’ve been reading elsewhere but it’s not the ultimate guide in NLP. There are better books for or anyone looking to learn new techniques on how to improve his/hers mental skills or about what NLP has to offer in general.

Keep on learning…

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Personal

Hello and welcome!

This is my blog post. Pretty obvious, I suppose, but I had to start somewhere. This blog will serve a dual purpose. Firstly to allow me to share ideas, problems and coding solutions within .NET and SQL Server programming and secondly to allow me to share miscellaneous thoughts on other aspects of my life.

The idea to start this blog was instilled to me during my SQLBits conference in London this past weekend. According to a couple of senior executives from the Microsoft SQL team, it is incredibly easy to make commitments in the future but always hard to commit in the present. Personally, I think that commitments are easy, especially if they have to do with something you enjoy. On the other hand, committing to something that resides outside your comfort zone is something that most people avoid as it is hard and require consistency.

The challenge in this case is not about committing to start a blog, though this is a nice first step towards the right direction. The challenge is to set a career target in the next 12 months and work hard to make this target a reality.

It may sound easy, but you have to make it realistic. Smaller realistic goals that help you achieve a greater goal are a great way to ensure that you don’t get sidetracked. As a developer with DBA responsibilities, there are a lot of options out there and sometimes this can become overwhelming. Do I want to be a better developer? Do I want to be a better DBA? Do I want to be a better developer that understands how to efficiently interact with an RDBMS system? I suppose the answer to all of the above is yes.

(Unfortunately)? this also means that the scope of personal development is quite big. To narrow the scope down, I decided to do some research and reading. Following from my chat with the brilliant people from Microsoft, the plan is to read 12 books in 12 months. Sound easy, right? It would have been easy if I were still 23 without a family, work and other extracurricular activities. But the reality is a lot different and I’m not going to use the above as an excuse. The 12 books have to be relevant to my job and my personal development so before I supply a list of the books, some further research is required to pick up the right ones. 2 of the books also need to be autobiographies. I’m planning to use the list of books found here. There are also some blogs from fellow developers that embarked on the exact same challenge and they have some decent recommendations.

At the end of each month, I will be using the blog to report on each book as this will re-enforce my commitment to reading the books thoroughly and not just skim over them.

Stay tuned for updates..
PS – You are free to follow and comment and any feedback will be welcome.

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