Saturday, November 24, 2012

Book Notes: Moonwalking with Einstein

Since my time working on education software and thinking about the best ways to educate my daughters, I've been curious about the role of memory and memorization drills. A couple months ago, I read Bill Gates's recommendation of Moonwalking with Einstein, the topic again piqued my interest.

The story tracks journalist Joshua Foer on his quest to move from covering memory championships to becoming a memory champion himself. The book provides a great source of information regarding history and methods of memory training from the Rhetorica Ad Herrenium's few passages on memory to modern day commercial memory training master, Tony Buzan.

While Moonwalking reminds me that I need to work on furnishing my Memory Palace and increasing my working memory, I find it's utility as a reminder that becoming an expert relies on "deliberate practice." Experts "develop strategies for consciously keeping out of the autonomous stage while they practice by doing three things: focusing on their technique, staying goal-oriented, and getting constant and immediate feedback on their performance." These three things are incredibly important for me as a manager of a team, a programmer, an amateur runner and an extremely amateur classical guitarist. What am I doing every time I spend time on an activity to actually get better at that activity? Running (run faster or longer every time I run) and guitar (progressively harder studies moving from 1/2 speed to full speed) are actually pretty straightforward.

As for managing a team, what am I doing every day to make sure I am becoming a more effective manager and leader? How am I getting feedback every day? Much to think about here... what are your thoughts?