By far one of the best books I’ve read this year so far has been Your Brain at Work by David Rock. This book is a beautiful conglomeration of everything I love. Brain science, productivity practices and tips/tools on how to talk with people so they do what you want. I wrote an official book review for my April Newspress article… below is that article in it’s entirety.
I just got another of his books, Quiet Leadership, which I have just started and am already loving as much, if not more than the first… it’s so exciting to have come across such valuable learning and be able to share it with you!
I get asked all the time what my favorite books are and while I read quite a bit I have yet to do a formal “book review”, until now. I recently read a book that rocked my world. Coincidence that the authors last name is Rock? Maybe. But I really loved this book and felt it deserved my inaugural book review here in the News Press!
The book jacket summarizes “Your Brain at Work” as strategies for overcoming distraction, regaining focus, and working smarter all day long. That could only mean one thing in my brain: raising productivity.
Built on the foundation of Mr. Rock’s SCARF Model, “Your Brain at Work” is structured into four acts. (Yes, acts.) Act I is the Fundamentals of Thinking. Act II is Stay Cool Under Pressure. Act III is Collaborate with Others, and the final Act IV is Facilitating Change. The SCARF Model is made up of Status, Certainty, Autonomy, Relatedness, and Fairness.
The book is information packed and well worth the read. Following are broad brushstrokes of the major ideas.
Act I: Fundamentals of Thinking. Mr. Rock contends we are born with the ability to bring the outside world into our brains by creating maps. This basic level of understanding is one of the five activities of conscious thought, which, by the way, takes place in the brain’s prefrontal cortex. There is also deciding, or activating and choosing our maps. Memorizing is holding on to the mental map for a sustained amount of time. Recalling refers to searching for a map and bringing it to mind. Finally, inhibiting is squelching or not activating a map.
Suggested tools to better map, or understand, tasks at work include using visuals. Draw a picture or diagram of the problem. Remember, this is for you, others don’t have to understand it. Another tool is to write things down, or as I put it: brain dump. If you know me at all, you know that I was psyched to hear this from him because it’s one of my main principles that I bring to my clients as a tool to up their game. Another familiar one to me? Use blocks of time throughout the day, and they don’t have to be equal blocks. A bigger block for deep thinking. A shorter block for the regular stuff, like filing an expense report.
Act II: Staying Cool under Pressure. No matter what the fictional character Mr. Spock of Star Trek fame may have led you to believe, the human brain is not wired for logic-only thinking. Not at this stage of evolution, anyway.
Emotions are hard wired into us because they are reflexes to dangers and rewards. They are survival of the fittest at its most basic level. Emotions are part of being human, so best to learn how to manage them. Reframe the situation in different words. Don’t ignore or suppress your emotions; that doesn’t do anyone good. The big takeaway here is to label your emotions and they’ll become easier to manage.
Act III: Collaborating with Others. Another thing the human brain is hard-wired for is to slot people into friend or foe categories. We’re not talking about profiling or stereotyping. Mr. Rock is talking about becoming and staying personally connected in the workplace. Let’s face it, if you’re going to be collaborating with others on a project, it’d be best to have some personal connection.
I found the notion of status as being a primary reward or threat very interesting. Of course, status is all relative, but it sure explains why people stay away from tasks that they feel makes them look less than their best.
Act IV: Facilitating Change. The accepted management practice of performance review and feedback is akin to “the beatings will stop when morale improves.” The approach focuses on problems and rarely on any problem solving. No wonder people feel threatened. Mr. Rock contends that the best way to get employees to change is by their own insight. Watch how you give feedback and suggestions. Create a safe environment for employees to give feedback on themselves.
Next time you are at a social gathering and someone asks, “Read any good books lately?” I know what your answer will be – “Your Brain at Work” by David Rock.
One of my favorite things in life is giving back. I’m a big believer that when you have a gift you need to share it because there are many that can benefit from what you have to give. I have given back to a wonderful organization in Santa Barbara for the last 7 years in the form of spending time teaching, coaching and consulting for their clients.
Women’s Economic Ventures (WEV) helps Santa Barbara and Ventura County residents start and grow small businesses through training, loans and consulting. WEV’s mission is to create an equitable and just society through the economic empowerment of women.
I received a call from Marsha Bailey a few months ago (the CEO of WEV) letting me know that the organization wanted to honor me with the “Volunteer of the Year” award at their annual Empowerment is Priceless fundraising breakfast in May. I was so blown away and excited!
Last week was that breakfast fundraiser… and it was a wonderful moment to hear such kind words spoken about what I have done (I learned that I was the most utilized consultant last year for the WEV participants) and continue to offer to these women and men building businesses and growing in all ways in their lives. They push their boundaries, take risks, look to what they want and find purpose in their goals. I absolutely love supporting this kind of stuff.
Thank you WEV for being amazing and for giving me such a wonderful honor!
I’m so grateful for the time I had with my mama while she was here… the lessons I learned, the moments we spent, the struggles we shared are all precious to me. If you are here, you have a mother… cherish her and let go of the stuff that gets in the way of love.
Happy Mother’s Day!