The two latest books I read was ‘Tipping Point’ by Malcolm Gladwell and ‘Stand Firm’ by Svend Brinkmann. I’ve been a fan of Malcolm Gladwell for a long time and find his books really enlightening. Tipping Point was no different and I like the idea of how small things can have a big impact. Being involved in sport is just that, you try and tweak things in training and games to get a better result. You try and analyze what you’ve done wrong so that you can change things for the next time.
Reading ‘Stand Firm’ by the Danish psychologist Svend Brinkmann was a bit of a different experience. The book was recommended to me by one of my coaches who knew I’m an avid reader when it comes to psychology and behavioural science. Brinkmann’s thoughts, or more precisely the philosophy of the Stoics, went against some of the basic fundamentals we’ve made to believe will improve our lives.
”Focus on the negative”, ”dwell on the past” and ”suppress your feelings” were the headlines of three of the seven chapters. Not really your typical approach to self-improvement. Brinkmann makes the ancient philosophy of Stoicism relevant in today’s world. For the majority of us, I hope, who goes in to work everyday looking for ways to improve it comes as a surprise when he’s talking about ”resisting the self-improvement craze”. There’s therefore more than a few times that he surprises me with the things he believes in.
I feel that it’s healthy to read something ”different” from time to time. Brinkmann does well to explain the accelerating culture in our society and how we’re constantly looking to improve our lives by listening to all kinds of ”lifestyle-gurus”. We’re constantly striving to become happier and more successful and because of that we feel a need to keep up with the latest trends and adjust to the ever changing world. This results in more cases of depression and stress-related symptoms than ever before.
From every book I read I try to find something I can use. In this book I actually found several even though Brinkmann’s values are somewhat unorthodox compared to my beliefs. I’m a guy that always wants to learn and improve while Brinkmann tries to explain that the methods I use might not always be the best. Fair enough.
Let’s just take one example, the chapter ”Put on your No hat”. This is something I’ve actually been focusing on myself for the last two years, learning to say no. I’ve had problems with this in the past where I would say yes to anything which meant I had sometimes too much on my plate. I’m improving but I still feel that I should be better at politely saying no if I don’t feel like doing something. Brinkmann says that it takes bravery and integrity to be able to say ‘I don’t want to do it’ because in today’s society everyone are expected to say yes. I agree completely.
It’s a problem if the ‘yes hat’ is seemed to be the only legitimate one. If you say no at work you’re deemed difficult to work with and they might even call you a negative influence. But it might be a great reminder that you shouldn’t always do what other expects you to do but instead do what you really want and believe in. Only robots always say yes. Brinkmann feels that we should have a ray of hats. Besides the No hat we should also have a Maybe hat, a Doubt hat and a Hesitation hat.
If you’re really looking to read something different this summer I suggest you pick up this book because it does make you think. The book is meant to be an anti self-help book but it actually gives you plenty of tools to deal with the pace of modern life.