Solar (Book Review)

Hmm, this book, Solar by Ian McEwan, was recommended by a friend and I did like it. But it was not among the other fiction books that I liked better. That being said, there is some very fun dark humour in there.

Michael Beard is a Nobel prize-winning physicist whose best work is behind him, and whose fifth marriage is crumbling. However, an invitation to travel to New Mexico offers him a chance for him to extricate himself from his marital problems, reinvigorate his career, and save the world from environmental disaster. Can a man who has made a mess of his life clean up the messes of humanity?

Hmm interesting note from a reader:

“I’m writing a paper arguing that Beard is himself meant to represent humanity’s approach to the environmental disaster: he lacks the ability to take responsibility for his own actions, acts in his own self-interest, and relishes in excess (both in food and women) to achieve his own pleasures at the detriment to himself and others.

I think McEwan’s trying to tell us that by ignoring/failing to take large-scale concerted efforts against Global Warming simply because environmental issues don’t seem to cause immediate catastrophe in our own lives we are effectively acting like the despicable Michael Beard.”

Hyperion (Book Review)

It has been a while but I remember Hyperion by Dan Simmons as a great audiobook. There is a lot of thriller, myth, and good storytelling.

Here is some synopsis:

Hyperion: On the world called Hyperion, beyond the law of the Hegemony of Man, there waits the creature called the Shrike. There are those who worship it. There are those who fear it. And there are those who have vowed to destroy it. In the Valley of the Time Tombs, where huge, brooding structures move backward through time, the Shrike waits for them all. On the eve of Armageddon, with the entire galaxy at war, seven pilgrims set forth on a final voyage to Hyperion seeking the answers to the unsolved riddles of their lives. Each carries a desperate hope—and a terrible secret. And one may hold the fate of humanity in his hands. 

A stunning tour de force filled with transcendent awe and wonder, Hyperion is a masterwork of science fiction that resonates with excitement and invention, the first volume in a remarkable new science fiction epic by the multiple-award-winning author of The Hollow Man.

The Fall of Hyperion: In the stunning continuation of the epic adventure begun in Hyperion, Simmons returns us to a far future resplendent with drama and invention. On the world of Hyperion, the mysterious Time Tombs are opening. And the secrets they contain mean that nothing–nothing anywhere in the universe–will ever be the same.

Legendary Flexibility (Book Review)

These are my notes on Legendary Flexibility by John Call (or Jujimufu). This year I’m working on getting better flexibility, mostly for (olympic) lifting, so what better time to read this book than now.

  • Do the hard work. I like this advice because he positions it next to doing ‘new’ or ‘exciting’ movements. Things like rollers etc, they are good and have value, but gaining flexibility (or strength for that matter) is about doing the hard work.
    • This also makes me think about YouTube videos on all these things, the incentive is wrong here. And by that, I mean that you can only make 5 videos about the basics and be done. But you can make 100 videos about crazy movements that are not the hard work.
    • “But from the start, which is right now, you have to accept that hard, direct, PAINFUL, and often BORING work is the only way to ever make it in the flexibility game. Brute force it.”
    • “Do 1000 reps. 1000 minutes worth of time deepening your splits or squats, or increasing your kicks. Whatever it is you want, begin brute forcing it now.
  • Find a strong enough why. What is your motivation? Mine is to 1) do the snatch (and likewise movements) full range of motion. And 2) to be able to touch my toes. And why these, because I feel better/good being able to do this.
  • Live the flexibility lifestyle. In your daily life, incorporate flexibility movements! Do them when picking up something from the floor, when doing the dishes, etc.
  • Strength and coordination (technique/repetition) are the keys to flexibility. It’s about training your nervous system those new movements.
  • Choose the right supplementary flexibility exercises.
    1. Select exercises that resemble your goal’s position or movement (i.e. you can only do so many snatches/aerials/etc per session)
    2. Always maintain full control in your flexibility exercises. (don’t force yourself into positions)
    3. Prioritize flexibility exercises that involve movement and tension (this can also mean moving against a wall (so no motion)
    4. Prioritize flexibility exercises that involve structure or make use of equipment (to help create tension and range of motion)
  • Book tip: Stretching Scientifically by Thomas Kurz. “when you’re fully stretched, flex your muscles”. Then relax and stretch a bit further. You can even increase the (power?) of the stretch by adding weight when doing the stretches.
  • Example, do stiff-legged deadlifts (on a platform) (with a straight back of course) to increase your back stretch! (goal 2) instead of just bending forward.
  • Get some tools to help you stretch. This can be weights but also things like a well-cushioned mat (thicker than a yoga mat). When was the last time you wanted to do a stretch on a hard floor?
    • “training in unnecessarily hard conditions is going to make you quit early or skip stretching.”
    • Other tools: walls, chair, fixed beams (lower squat), barbell, yoga blocks, rings, weights, (cossack squat with weights!), bands, stick/pvc, straps, timer, knee sleeves, etc
  • Part II: Flexibility Training Strategies
  • Collection 1: Circumstances – train flexibility when you train other things
    • “add movements that stimulate flexibility and ranges of motion during your warm up.”
    • E.g. light but very deep squats before going heavy
    • Also do them throughout your workout to target weak points (e.g. parts of the snatch)
  • “You get flexibility stimulation throughout the day in little bits here and there by living a flexibility lifestyle, but that’s not enough to develop very high ranges of motion. You must add in the intense stretches that are very uncomfortable to build the control and pain tolerance needed for those ranges of motion. That will do a great trick, but you also need to spend more time training flexibility in long sessions with relaxed and refreshing work. Particularly for the latter, you should be doing your long sessions in supportive and motivating environments with other people.”
  • Consider performance-enhancing drugs for flexibility (pre-workout supplements for flexibility). Jon suggests some painkillers (for relaxing the muscles). And caffeine, L-Tyrosine, DMAE?, ephedrine, L-theanine (etc)
  • Eat a flexibility friendly diet:
    • Drink a lot of water (duh) (Jon drinks 7-11 LITERS per day)
    • Eat anti-inflammatory (greens, fish(oil), curcumin?)
  • Collection 2: Tracking – Measure your flexibility progress
    • Do this via making regular videos of yourself
    • When doing flexibility exercises, 1min stretch, 4min rest, 5 sets is a good amount (25min total)
    • The rest period is there for a reason, for your nervous system and cellular machinery to calibrate themselves to the new range of motion demands you’re placing on them.
    • Make a log, just like one for lifting. Write what you did, but also write about your experience and tips for next time!
  • Collection 3: Parameters – Choose the right intensity and volume in flexibility training
    • As with weightlifting, you can do sets at 80% flexibility and still have positive effects. You don’t need to go to 100% each time.
    • Try and work on flexibility every day, but do it lighter when feeling crap (and cycle heavier and lighter days)
  • Collection 4: Programming – Correctly sequence your flexibility work within a workout
    • ‘traditional’ timing doesn’t really matter and although most ‘static’ stretches are useless, they also don’t hurt your performance by doing them before a workout.
    • you do want to warm-up before going all-out, so do that! active stretches and light-weight exercises (aka also stretching).
    • do stretches that resemble the movement that you want to do! (duh)
    • If you want to learn something, prioritise it for a cycle of 12 weeks! Take a week break every month or so.
    • “Flexibility improvement is not linear. Eventually, you will need to step it up, or back the hell off to make new improvements.”
    • “Backing off is not only hard to do, but it’s also completely counter-intuitive for flexibility training. Yet it is the best advice I can give people who are doing everything right already with any intensive flexibility training.”
    • Really do nothing, not even light training.
  • Collection 5: Psychology – Get rid of harmful flexibility expectations
    • You are influenced by everything around you and if you did a hard workout or a busy week, don’t expect the next time of the workout to be as good.
    • “If it were easy, everyone would be doing it…”
    • If you’re sore, stretch through it.
    • “For many people, the “mobility problem” they experience with some movements and skills aren’t caused by lack of flexibility, sometimes it is caused by not committing to the full range of motion. Not committing is a confidence issue. Commitment is scary!”
    • Please do know that there is a difference between letting yourself go to max depth and forcing (bad) yourself.
    • Build your confidence by visualisation!
    • “So now, here’s a secret about sport confidence: it’s best developed by physical preparation and difficult performance. So the best way to push yourself past your physical limits is to prepare for, and perform in, high-pressure situations.”
  • “flexibility gains last a very long time. With a proper flexibility training cycle to build it up initially, then general maintenance after that, and retention of confidence throughout your training lifetime, you can achieve something seemingly akin to permanently increased levels of flexibility, even high levels of flexibility can become seemingly permanent.”
  • Attain permanent flexibility – when you incorporate other exercises than the one you want to keep, you will still keep that flexibility (it’s about control and keeping your central nervous system still active).
  • Part III – Flexibility Training Programs
  • Routine 1: The splits
    1. The full splits are a worthy goal (good for reputation)
    2. Full front splits are easier than full side splits
    3. The full splits are not an advanced skill (Jon compares it to being easier than 2.5x bodyweight deadlifts)
    4. Not many people have full splits because not many people train them
    5. The splits are a technical skill (like a flip or lift)
  • Workout 1 – Extreme relaxed splits (1 hour)
    • Do 2 of these 3
      1. Front split with left foot in front
      2. Front split with right foot in front
      3. Side split
    • Set up mat, get timer, 10min warm-up, 1 min mildly uncomfortable, 2 min moving relaxation, repeat 3-4 times, then 3 min instead of 1 min depth, repeat 2 times, repeat for second type
  • Workout 2 – Weighted Splits
    • Ditto exercises
    • Set up mat, 10 minutes active warm-up (thoracic extension variations), some weightlifting (optional) with focus on flexibility, 1min split/2min rest, repeat x times, add 5kg, 3-5 sets/3-10 (side) or 6-20 (front) sec hold, rest 3:30/5:30
  • Example 12 week split program: 1. Monday/Wednesday, 2. Thursday/Sunday (see page 167)
  • Routine 3: Ass to grass squats
    • use movement (up-down/left-right/etc) instead of only static stretching
    • goblet squats
    • Hmm no more guidance here, but I can do 2 routines of 30min per week / combine it with day when I squat
  • Universal flexibility routine
    • These do not have to be done in any particular order.
    • These are not done for X amount of reps or sets. Although, I generally spend 20 minutes doing this daily, usually before training.
    • Stay in constant motion and move in and out of the positions. It’s best to combo these movements. What you should be doing is fidgeting around.
    • Do not pause for more than a couple seconds at any range of motion.
    • You should actually be feeling blood flow to the muscles as you do this. A very mild muscle pump is possible.
    • Rely on support initially, but then wean yourself off of it. Afterwards, begin using a structure (or weight) to increase the difficulty.
    • Add in a rest period of 2-3 minutes every 10 minutes or so, even if you aren’t feeling any fatigue.
    • Exercises examples: Cossack stretch, squats, warrior lunge, extending spine, twisting, bending, reaching, kicking, etc
    • Thoracic extension: do it with large pvc pipe. Butt on floor, foot on floor, back on the floor, arms across body (or behind back etc), head/top-body back (hunt for tight spot) Upgrade: use weight overhead/horizontal. 3 sets, 1min set/3min rest.
    • The kick: also do knee stretches here
    • “The most important step you can take toward legendary flexibility development is to move into and out of the most stable, full range of motion positions possible every time you move.”
  • Conclusion
  • Just do it (ghehe)
  • And for myself, develop a flexibility (and strength, and coordination) routine for myself! based on this book and further reading

Poor Charlie’s Almanack (Book Review)

This will be my summary notes of Poor Charlie’s Almanack by Charlie Munger. He is the right-hand man of Warren Buffet and one of the wealthiest individuals on the world. What I’ve heard about the book is that it’s full of psychology, life-lessons, and other strategies for making good decisions. If it’s anything like Thinking, Fast and Slow or Predictably Irrational (but more personal, less research-heavy) then it would be a great read.

  • “My children laugh at me. They think I’m a book with a couple of legs sticking out.”
  • “Physics-like problem solving was to become a passion for Charlie and is a skill he considers helpful in framing the problems of life.”
  • The short biography of his life shows that he had a drive, he didn’t think he had enough. In particular, this was related to earning money, I wonder where this comes from. (in the same paragraph it’s also mentioned that he was aware of not spending too much and focus on the tasks at hand).
  • Key to success in one word? “rational”
  • Warren Buffet on Charlie Munger: “there is honesty and integrity, and always doing more than his share and not complaining about what the other person does.
  • “I would say everything about Charlie is unusual. I’ve been looking for the usual now for forty years, and I have yet to find it. Charlie marches to his own music, and it’s music like virtually no one else is listening to. So, I would say that to try and typecast Charlie in terms of any other human that I can think of, no one would fit. He’s got his own mold.”
  • On the strategy of Berkshire Hathaway, “they have a spectacular track record of identifying undervalued companies and then either buying large stakes in the public markets or acquiring them outright.”
  • He learned a lot by studying the great people from history, he would make them his ‘friends’ and read many biographies during his lifetime.
  • “Franklin used his self-made wealth to achieve financial independence so he could concentrate on societal improvement. Charlie admires that trait in his mentor and strives to emulate Franklin.” I hope to one day be in this category of people and/or to combine working and giving.

  • Munger was heavily influenced by Cicero. Some lessons are around check-and-balances in society, about the value of being lost in thought, life-long learning, and of having your own point of view.
  • “Cicero counsels that the study of philosophy, in a life-long search for basic causes, is an ideal activity, usually serviceable for old people all the way to the grave.”
  • “To Cicero, if you live right, the inferior part of life is the early part.”
  • He also argues against complaining, like so many do, and to look at a positive aspect of everything. E.g. when getting old you lose sexual vigour but also have less attraction to others who aren’t your partner. This reframing is very much in line with Stoic thought.

  • When returning a car he had bought, he was sure to top it up, even when in a hurry. Always do good unto others who help you. I like this very much and makes me think of a friend who is always very attentive.
  • “Do the job right the first time.”
  • Buy things that are durable (e.g. clothes).
  • What I think is the biggest difference in thinking between Charlie and me, is that he can be single-minded and focus on just one thing. I have those moments sometimes but I would like to have that state of mind more often. I guess that I do have a very good skill of combining different areas of thought. But the Deep Work part of it could be better.
  • “Find out what you’re best at and keep pounding away at it.”

Chapter 2: The Munger Approach to Life, Learning, and Decision Making

  • “Take a simple idea and take it seriously.”
  • When thinking about business, and comparing it to evolution, the riches are in the niches.
  • “You must know the big ideas in the big disciplines and use them routinely-all of them, not just a few. Most people are trained in one model-economics, for example-and try to solve all problems in one way. You know the old saying: ‘To the man with a hammer, the world looks like a nail.’ This is a dumb way of handling problems.”

Why Men Don’t Listen and Women Can’t Read Maps (Book Review)

Why Men Don’t Listen and Women Can’t Read Maps: How We are Different and What to Do About It by Allan & Barbara Pease examines, exuberates and explains some of the key differences between men and women. It is one of the more recent books in a long string published by this amazing couple. The book answers questions like; What do women really want? How do men think about relationships? And what about biology and love? Taking communication as their perspective, the authors have quite successfully dissected gender difference. Not the most urgent read, but definitely one to savour for the next vacation.

The first chapter is about sex in the brain, who would not want to read about that. One of the subtopics covers the topic; I cannot sleep, I cannot eat. The biological explanation is a low serotonin level and high oxytocin level. The funny thing is that this image, of these hormones found in teens who are in love, is similar to people who are considered crazy. More of the chapter states that people have a lot more dopamine than normally, are more creative and full of energy, and need less sleep or food. They even state that being in love can be compared to being high, the same areas are activated as when you were to take cocaine.

But of course, you are wondering where men and women are different. In the brains on love of the different sexes, different areas are activated. Women have more activation in the areas for memory, emotion, attention and mental images. Men have more activation in the areas for visual processing. Reasons for these differences can be found in many areas. Through evolution, males have had to look for women that have good genes, so they looked for young and healthy. Women, on the other hand, have looked for men showing the capability to protect her and their children. This basic process is still present in our genes, even in our modern society.

The rest of the book takes the reader on a tour of what men and women want. It explores the one-night stand, affairs, and finding the right partner. Two of the latest chapters are about mysteries both sexes have about each other. One of these explains the ‘nothing’ box men have (I can confirm the existence) and why some of the smartest women are bad in the love-game.

By using both serious research and a no-nonsense approach to gender differences Allan & Barbara Pease have done a great job in capturing the reader. One cautionary note should, however, be made. And that is that the differences within both sexes are almost always bigger than between them. This means that on average men are more visually oriented, but that plenty of them are driven mostly by emotion and that there are plenty of women that are visually oriented. Nevertheless, it is an excellent book to read.

More on Why Men Want Sex & Women Need Love: – Official site for Allan & Barbara Pease – Why Men Want Sex & Women Need Love (.pdf) – Why Men Do Not Listen and Women Cannot Read Maps (.pdf) – Body Language (.pdf)

David and Goliath (Book Review)

David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits and the Art of Battling Giants by Malcolm Gladwell exposes strengths as weaknesses and weaknesses as strengths. In his ever enjoyable writing style, Gladwell takes the reader on a journey through Ireland, New York City, Maryland, and of course Palestine. Using distinctive case studies to guide each chapter the book never ceases to amuse and amaze!

Let us get started right away with the title, the story of David and Goliath. It has been told as an inspirational story for the underdog to achieve victory and take down the giant. David was much smaller than Goliath. He had no armour, Goliath, on the other hand, was covered almost from tip to toe. And David had only a few rocks in a pouch as opposed to Goliath who not only had a sword but also had a spear at hand. You are now probably asking: How in the world did David win? It is because his perceived weaknesses were actually strengths.

Gladwell states that in ancient times there were three ‘classes’ in the armies of those times. They balanced like rock-paper-scissors. And as you may have guessed, David was to Goliath as paper is to rock. Had had no armour and was therefore more agile. He had no sword but could throw his rocks with the precision of a very experienced archer. And this is what decided the battle. Even before Goliath could really identify David, he was struck to the head with the bag of stones. And when he fell to the ground, David used his own sword against him to end the battle and claim victory.

The key message is that seemingly advantageous characteristics can in some (or many) cases be a disadvantage. It is only when the underdog is aware that the normal tactics will not work, he can flip the battle to his advantage by adopting another strategy. Some more recent examples of this have been found when armies outnumbered and outgunned by 10 to 1 have won wars by adapting to the situation and fighting in unconventional ways. In congruence with the third part of the book, it can be stated that there are limits to power.

Next, to the story of David and Goliath, there are many more. Some are concerned with the battles between larger groups of people, whilst some are concerned with the individual. The second part of the book is dedicated to the desirable difficulty, the paradox of the power that overcoming of difficulties can bring with it. The book is as superb as any other book by Malcolm Gladwell. It highlights information that has been around for long, but not yet studied to the extent it has been now. For it will take the average reader only one or two afternoons to finish this book, it should be the next on your list!

More on David and Goliath: – Review of The Tipping Point – Review of What the Dog Saw – Gladwell’s site – More on Gladwell

Uncertainty (Book Review)

Uncertainty: Turning Fear and Doubt into Fuel for Brilliance by Jonathan Fields takes uncertainty by its throat and furiously knocks it down. This is no self-help book about overcoming your fear (of spiders). This is a research-driven exploration of the underlying mechanics of uncertainty. And, ok, maybe also a bit of a self-help book, but then one that is next on your list!

F.E.A.R.: False expectations appearing real, the best definition of fear I have heard in my lifetime. Uncertainty and fear of judgement go hand in hand. Jonathan Fields defines judgement as a three layer cake: 1) Judgement from those whose approval you seek (e.g. peers, mentors), 2) Judgement from people from whom you seek money for your creations, and 3) Judgement from yourself. People are always asking themselves two questions: 1) Is this good enough? and 2) Am I good enough?

Two of the many experiments described paint a clear picture of how crippling fear is. The one is an experiment in which people were asked to pick a ball from either a box with a certain (50/50) division of balls, and an uncertain box with a random division between both. The manipulation was the presence of an audience, and people were more likely to choose for the latter when there was no audience present. A natural experiment is that of artists from whom their work was being commissioned (asked to paint with a specific goal). Judges were asked to rate the creativity of two paintings by each artist, one that was commissioned and one that they made for no particular reason/goal. And you have probably already guessed it right that the latter was judged to be far more creative.

The book introduces the concept of uncertainty but then ventures much further. Fields debunks the myth that there are fearless creators, people who are not afraid of anything. He instead proposes that everyone has his or her fear and doubts, but that some have learned to effectively deal with them. One of the first techniques is to find your certainty anchors, to explore and evaluate your lifestyle ritual and alternate between bursts of work and recovery. Later chapters explore building your hive (find the spot where you are challenged just enough), socializing creation (create with others), and training your brain.

Overcoming uncertainty boils down to learning to live, even to embrace, your uncertainty. Field has three questions that you must ask to take control of your life again: 1) What if I fail, then recover? 2) What if I do nothing?, and 3) What if I succeed? Already by posing (and answering) these fundamental questions, you will mitigate a large amount of uncertainty. Real-life examples combined with research and tips make this book one of a kind. From big-time CEO to student, everyone has something to learn from Uncertainty.

More on Uncertainty: – The Website of Uncertainty – Interview with Fields – Interview with Fields

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

“You will be required to do wrong no matter where you go. It is the basic condition of life, to be required to violate your own identity. At some time, every creature which lives must do so. It is the ultimate shadow, the defeat of creation; this is the curse at work, the curse that feeds on all life. Everywhere in the universe.”  – Philip K. Dick

Lessons learnt: When androids become humanlike (in the EQ department), things start to become creepy real fast. People value ‘real’ things over ‘fakes’. Do not blindly trust your memories.

It is the year 1992, World War Terminus has passed and the world is covered in levels of radiation. Most people have moved to colonies, incentivized by receiving a free ‘andy’ (android) by the UN. Yet still people remain on earth, some because they do not have the mental capacity to come along (only smart people were allowed to go), others because their job requires them to stay on earth. The latter case is true for Rick Deckard and his wife Iran. Rick is a bounty hunter with the San Francisco police department and he is about to face quite the challenge. This is how Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep (DADOES) by Philip K. Dick starts.

Over the course of the book, Rick will headhunt 6 andies that have escaped from the colony and who are posing as humans on earth. The story is not too long and can be read within a few hours (just like Animal Farm), more interesting is how the andies are depicted in the novel. They look just like humans, eat food and even dream (but probably not about electric sheep). The only thing that is different is that they have no feelings such as that we humans have. Rick uses a so-called Voight-Kampff Test, something that detects how fast and in what magnitude the test subject responds to different situations (it is comparable to a lie detector). Where in DADOES people are immediately shocked by an example of people eating animals (they are almost extinct and are kept as very expensive pets /status symbols), the andies have a delay in their response. What I find interesting is that tests like this would be very hard to do. Not every person responds in the same way, psychopaths or people with less affect might not even show readings when presented with very grotesque imagery. At the same time, humanoid androids can be programmed to show very sudden or delayed responses, making it impossible to detect who is who (without cutting someone open of course). It leaves a man thinking.

Another interesting aspect of DADES is the mood organ. It is introduced in the very beginning and can be explained as a device that lets you choose your emotion, its duration and intensity. Here is an excerpt:
“Dial 888,” Rick said as the set warmed. “The desire to watch TV, no matter what’s on it.”
“I don’t feel like dialling anything at all now,” Iran said.
“Then dial 3,” he said.
“I can’t dial a setting that stimulates my cerebral cortex into wanting to dial! …

What if we could control our emotions? What would people choose, would we all set it to eternal bliss, or would we then forget to eat and sleep? And what if we could endure the most horrible jobs with a smile, just because you put the settings on happy in the morning. And what about including emotional states such as depression, would you need to know what is a ‘good’ mood again, or can you be happy without knowing what sad is like. With the ying-yang symbol (and philosophy) in mind, my intuitive answer would be no. We are of course not currently that advanced in technology that we can really do this, but I guess that we are darn close.

“I like her; I could watch her the rest of my life. She has breasts that smile.” (Rick about a female andy) – Philip K. Dick

Maybe DADOES was written as just any sci-fi story, maybe it was written to get people to think about the subjects discussed before. There may not be a definitive answer here, but it sure did the latter for me. DADOES was written in 1968, but now still reads as if it could happen within a few years. It is not a book that you need to have read, it is a book that is great for the summer and to discuss with friends. If you are more fond of movies, there is the adaption called ‘Bladerunner’ which you can watch.

More on DADOES – DADOES study guide – Pdf of DADOES – Wiki on DADOES

The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership (Book Review)

“People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” – John C. Maxwell

Lessons learnt: Effective leadership is influence. Leaders grow every day. Leaders chart the course. Leaders develop leaders. Trust is the foundation of leadership. Leaders decide with the available data. You attract people who are like you, people do what they see. Leaders should create wins… continually. Leadership value is measured by succession.

Remember John C. Maxwell from his 5 levels of leadership? Not only is he a great speaker, he has also written 10 books on leadership (and many more on relationships, attitude and equipping). With this many years of experience, one might think that he has learned all there is to learn about leadership. Maxwell disagrees with you there, he states that he is just a student, ever continuing his learnings and at the same time spreading the lessons he has already learnt. In the updated and revised version of The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John Maxwell, you are given an insight into more than 50 years of experience and research, some great leadership stories and lessons you would not dare to forget.

A review would not do justice to contemplate al 21 laws here, therefore I have chosen to introduce the two that I found most important: The Law of Progress – leadership develops daily, not in a day & The Law of Addition – leaders add value by serving others.

  1. If you spend €5,- on a latte macchiato every day for 20 years, you will have a great (?) cup of coffee each day. If you save €5,- for the same amount of time, you will have about €55.000,-. This short analogy illustrates that building on yesterday can give you a great advantage, being a leader is not about events (the coffee), it is about the power of process. Sometimes we see great leaders and think that they are formed right there on the spot, or that they had one life-changing event. Maxwell states “Champions do not become champions in the ring – they are merely recognized there”.
  2. What if Einstein kept all his discoveries to himself? What if the first Googlers kept their search engine for themselves? What if people only advanced themselves and not others? I reckon the world would be of a lot worse. Leadership is not about how far you can advance yourself, but how far you can advance others. Where you are only one person, there are many people around you who can learn from you (and others) and start spreading the lessons themselves. One example that comes to mind is of Elon Musk and Tesla. Not only has he developed a great company, recently he gave away all patents and now electric batteries are exploding (figuratively). Of course, Tesla also grows because others start using their technology, but others win too – it is what Stephen R. Covey would describe as synergy.

“Leadership is not about titles, positions or flowcharts. It is about one life influencing another.” – John C. Maxwell

In 21 laws, or principles, Maxwell explains lessons that may seem obvious to some people, and quite radical to others. On many occasions, he uses his own life lessons (read: mistakes, and wins) to illustrate how a leadership law has worked out. It will be very difficult to excel at all laws and therefore you will need a strong leadership team within your company. The Law of Explosive Growth explains this principle: to add growth, lead followers – to multiply, lead leaders. One thing I observed whilst reading the book is that a leader has to first know himself before applying most lessons. Many of them involve exposing yourself, making connections and empowering other people. But if you are ready for it, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership is a great resource to read and apply in your life.

More on 21 Laws?—-john-maxwell – Executive Summary of 21 Laws – Summary of 21 Laws – Another Summary of 21 Laws