“The 5 Elements of Effective Thinking” Book Review

“The 5 Elements of Effective Thinking” is one of those books I wish I had read much, much earlier. This easy to read book offers solid, practical advice on how to think so that you can understand topics more deeply, and learn faster.

The first section delves into understanding a topic deeply, and offers some interesting and useful exercises you can do to identify areas where your understanding is lacking. Learning to question your own beliefs and clearing the clutter from a topic are both techniques that help clarify your own biases as well as making sure you are looking at the “meat” of the material.

The concept of making mistakes is presented next, and felt like the weakest section of this book perhaps because it has been presented so many times in other books. Regardless, a Agile-like technique of initially finding any possible answer regardless of its quality, and then refining it over and over until it works was interesting to see presented as a mental framework.

Continuously asking quality questions comes next as the method toward understanding a topic. Even if the question goes unanswered, it is helpful for identifying areas you can focus on in the future. The technique of learning to learn a topic as if you are going to teach it, and need to anticipate the questions you will be asked is an extremely effective practice. The technique of learning to write the questions you think will be on a test is something a wish I had learnt when I was in University.

Following the flow of ideas is next, and is the most theoretical section of the book and makes use of the previous sections. Learning to see even the most complex of ideas as just a small adjustment from a previous piece of knowledge, can help you to piece together how a complex idea is built. Learning to ask questions about what comes next is a particularly powerful for those in research on those working with cutting-edge technologies.

Finally, learning to make and accept change is the final section.  Again, it’s felt like this has been covered in many other places, so there wasn’t much offered here that was new or different.

On the whole, this book is exceptional. Ideas are presented clearly, practical applications and exercises are given, and nothing is overdone. I expect this will be one of the books I will end up rereading several times over the rest of my life. 5 out of 5 stars.

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