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Book Review: 5 Elements of Effective Thinking

I've listened to the audio book several times on trips across country, and each time I've said that I needed to buy the book (paper version) so that I could study it better.  So I did, and this is an attempt to outline the books major points.

The book:  The 5 Elements of Effective Thinking  by Burger & Starbird.

In the audio format I found it hard to visualize the 5 elements, perhaps because of the analogy to the classic elements of earth, fire, air, and water.   So before any confusion sets in, here are the author's 5 elements:


  • Grounding Your Thinking; Understand Deeply  [Earth]
  • Igniting Insights through Mistakes; Fail to Succeed  [Fire]
  • Creating Questions out of Thin Air; Be your own Socrates  [Air]
  • Seeing the Flow of Ideas; Look Back, Look forward  [Water]
  • Engaging Change; Transform Yourself  [the Quintessential element]
"In any movie, play, or literary work, media scholars tell us how to determine who truly is the main character of the story -- it's the individual who, by the end, has changed the most."  -- Burger & Starbird

Each chapter is illustrated with wonderful stories.  An example:  JFK's 1961 speech to Congress in which he challenged the US:  "I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth."  The result of this challenge was not to start putting people in rockets and sending them to the Moon.  It was much simpler steps that built upon previous learnings.  Their example is the Ranger program, in which NASA tried 6 times to just hit the Moon, and failed before succeeding in the seventh attempt to crash Ranger 7 into the moon.  Learning in each attempt, solving bigger more complex problems by iteration.


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