A leading economist charts the indirect road to happiness and wealth.
Using dozens of practical examples from the worlds of business, politics, science, sports, literature, even parenting, esteemed economist John Kay proves a notion that feels at once paradoxical and deeply commonsensical: The best way to achieve any complex or broadly defined goal-from happiness to wealth to profit to preventing forest fires-is the indirect way. As Kay points out, we rarely know enough about the intricacies of important problems to tackle them head-on. And our unpredictable interactions with other people and the world at large mean that the path to our goals-and sometimes the goals themselves-will inevitably change. We can learn about our objectives and how to achieve them only through a gradual process of risk taking and discovery-what Kay calls obliquity. Kay traces this pathway to satisfaction as it manifests itself in nearly every aspect of life. The wealthiest people-from Andrew Carnegie to Bill Gates-achieved their riches through a passion for their work, not because they set materialistic goals. Research has shown that companies whose goal (as declared in mission statements) is excellent products or service are more profitable than companies whose stated goal is increasing profits.
In the personal realm, a large body of evidence shows that parenthood is on a daily basis far more frustrating than happy- making. Yet parents are statistically happier than nonparents. Though their short-term pleasure is often thwarted by the demands of childrearing, the subtle-oblique-rewards of parenthood ultimately make them happier. Once he establishes the ubiquity of obliquity, Kay offers a wealth of practical guidance for avoiding the traps laid by the direct approach to complex problems. Directness blinds us to new information that contradicts our presumptions, fools us into confusing logic with truth, cuts us off from our intuition (which is the subconscious expression of our experience), shunts us away from alternative solutions that may be better than the one we're set on, and more. Kay also shows us how to acknowledge our limitations, redefine our goals to fit our skills, open our minds to new data and solutions, and otherwise live life with obliquity. This bracing manifesto will convince listeners-or confirm their conviction-that the best route to satisfaction and success does not run through the bottom line.
©2011 John Kay (P)2011 Gildan Media Corp
Much has been said about the content of the book - most of it positive, and I agree wholeheartedly. What I can't understand is how no one in the entire production process stopped this narrator from using his phony voice. Think Agent Smith from the Matrix but more annoying. The shame is that the man has a great voice. If he'd just, you know, read it instead of sounding like someone doing an over-the-top newscaster impression, it would be tolerable if not pleasurable to listen to.
I loved the principle and explanations on Obliquity. I didn't like how long the author dragged out the principle itself. This book could have been summed up in an article and been good enough.
The paradigm shift on the pathways to achieving our goals
Not really. Could have been 1/2 the time
Another book that points out that we may not be conscious of the motivation of our behaviors, especially when they do not align with our control and belief system. Stuff happens because of the meandering events of life more than the actual plan. Life is a serendipitous journey but we want to believe that we planned it that way.
May biggest complaint is the intonation of the readers voice. Maddening to hear the almost "uh" sound at the end of every sentence.
Gives words to what you may have already realized but not expressed.
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