Review of Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman.
Thinking, Fast and Slow, by the psychologist Daniel Kahneman, is a dense read which took me several weeks. But it was highly rewarding – challenging the mental constructs that I bring to coaching but reinforcing my conviction that the economic paradigm that has come to dominate corporate life needs to be supplemented with a more social one.
Kurt Vonnegut’s 1985 novel Galápagos is a Darwinian satire on the mess humankind causes for itself as a result of having evolved big brains. Set in the late 20th Century, it charts the breakdown of society and the near extinction of the human species — caused by a cocktail of hedonism, financial crisis and viruses. The twist is that the story is narrated from the vantage point of a million years hence, from which perspective the culture and behaviour of 20th Century humans seems inexplicable. The few surviving humans of the future — a small colony that settled on the Galápagos islands — have evolved a more stable equilibrium with their environment with small brains, minimal language and a simple life in which the only concern is when to dive into the ocean to catch fish.
The novel has a fragmented narrative but is brimming with ideas. Reading it in the wake of the financial crisis of the early 21st Century, it resonates more strongly possibly than it may have at the time of publication. Vonnegut evokes the rapidity with which society can break down when people no longer believe in the value of money: a catastrophe to which we came closer than most of us care to imagine.
It’s offering resources to help employees manage stress at work. Mind emphasises the need to recognise when you are feeling and stress and your ability to take action about it, however small. In most jobs, one has some autonomy to manage things without reference to anyone else; making the most of this gives you some sense of control and helps you to stop feeling the victim of other people’s demands.
During these past three months, I’ve resumed my Masters studies in coaching – which partly accounts for the lack of posts here. Aside from earning a living and maintaining family life, most of my spare capacity has been absorbed by keeping across the reading. So it’s high time to put the studies aside and renew my acquaintance with my blog.
One of the things that strikes me is how my attitude to coaching has subtly shifted since I was last here. I’ve always paid a lot of attention in coaching to my clients’ conscious sense of self. I often tend to explore people’s values and aspirations, and what it would take to achieve better alignment with one’s values. What this often flushes out is that we tend to hold a range of values that may contradict each other – such as the perennial tension between work and personal life.