top of page

Book 352 - A Year of Magical Learning

Reflection Title: Slow Down Time for Your Elephant’s Greatest Tricks!

Book – Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell

Book Description:

Blink is a book about how we think without thinking, about choices that seem to be made in an instant-in the blink of an eye-that actually aren't as simple as they seem. Why are some people brilliant decision makers, while others are consistently inept? Why do some people follow their instincts and win, while others end up stumbling into error? How do our brains really work-in the office, in the classroom, in the kitchen, and in the bedroom? And why are the best decisions often those that are impossible to explain to others? In Blink we meet the psychologist who has learned to predict whether a marriage will last, based on a few minutes of observing a couple; the tennis coach who knows when a player will double-fault before the racket even makes contact with the ball; the antiquities experts who recognize a fake at a glance. Here, too, are great failures of "blink": the election of Warren Harding; "New Coke"; and the shooting of Amadou Diallo by police.


I had so much fun consuming Talking to Strangers that I wanted to keep the Malcolm Gladwell train rolling and found myself immediately turning to Blink. For a split second I thought, “2 Gladwell books back to back…is that too much?” Then I remembered that I was guaranteed to love it and clicked purchase without hardly even thinking. I’m glad I did because, shocker, I loved it. I devoured Blink in 2 days effortlessly. Between Talking to Strangers and Blink, I’ve spent the past 4 days immersed in Malcolm Gladwell land and loving every minute of it.

Blink and Talking to Strangers are really 2 stories that go together very well. The center around a topic I love in that magical elephant we learned about in the Happiness Hypothesis, better known as the thinking fast brain from Thinking Fast, and Slow. As we’ve mentioned a time or 2 on this journey, our elephant, or our adaptive unconscious as Gladwell calls it, is really the star of the show for human beings. Our elephants are just freaking incredible. The fact that I can use a tennis racket to hit an 80-mph topspin forehand with pinpoint accuracy to a certain spot on a court away from my opponent while in a dead sprint is simply astounding. I could promise you that if I thought about any of what I just mentioned while the point was going on because if I did, it wouldn’t have happened. The connection, timing, and coordination of so many split-second actions all had to magically come together to bring that end result into reality.

This is the power of our elephant in action, and it is mind blowing.

Our elephant doesn’t just come out during certain activities, it runs our lives for the most part. I don’t know the specifics of how often our elephant is in control of our actions throughout the course of the day, but I would venture to say it is 99% of the time. However, our elephants are not infallible. That is why we have a rider that we learned about in The Happiness Hypothesis, or our thinking slow brain as we learned in Thinking Fast, and Slow, that accompanies the elephant to help us with our blind spots, help teach the elephant, and ultimately make us that much stronger. Your rider’s job is to train your elephant, which is no simple task.

While Blink was largely about the incredible power of our elephants to make complex decisions in an instant, however what this book made me think about most was the role of the rider to help slow down the world just a little bit to help the elephant to be even better for the activities that we value most. As Darren Hardy once said, “You have to go slow to go fast” and no truer statement has ever been told.

Fast and automatic is great, but it is also confusing and overwhelming. If I can’t understand what my elephant is doing, then I can’t help. That is where the power of going slow comes into play. We can’t go slow on everything in life because there just isn’t enough time, so we must be very selective of where we help our elephant. Those things that we really love is where our rider needs to spend their attention and where our rider shines. Through reflection, processes, and deliberate thought and attention, our rider’s job is to dissect what the elephant is really doing and then confirming that is what we all collectively wanted, offer advice, and coach.

For Emilia and I, we go slow when we take this time each morning to share our thoughts together at our keyboard. We discuss what we learned, what we liked most about what we observed from our elephant yesterday, and most importantly we make sure that we are in alignment as we move forward with the day to come. After that morning check in, we let the day come at us and let our elephant do its thing. Then we do it all over again the next day, and the next day, and every day that we have the blessing to keep trying in this world.

As we continue learning and confirming, the compound effect of the little daily check in helps our elephants to get just the tiniest bit better at what it does. You won’t see it at first, but if you look back months and years down the road, you will see the value that the rider has brought to your elephant if you are doing it right. \

The greatest gift that a rider can give to its elephant is the tiniest bit more of time to do process its greatest tricks and things we both love. Those greatest tricks are what I like to call meaningful work.

Question: How is your rider helping to buy your elephant more time to perform its greatest feats?



What is The Year of Magical Learning? - An Introduction

YOML Podcast Discussion - Coming Soon

YOML Bookstore - Blink by Malcolm Gladwell

8 views0 comments


bottom of page