Books that have Shaped Me #1

I read with great interest Tim O'Reilly's posting about books that shaped how he thinks. It made me want to write a similar list for myself. Here I'm thinking about books that changed the way I look at things or changed the way I think or feel. That's pretty general, since I suppose anything can change the way you see, think, feel, etc. What I'm really getting at is the books that have caused a dramatic change in me.

Me, being my procrastinating self when it comes to web stuff (I'm sure you've noticed that my web posts are few and far between), thought that I should post a book at a time, because otherwise the list will never get compiled. So here, in what will be a (small) ongoing series, are what I feel are the books that have changed me. |Book #1: Simplicity, by Edward de Bono

It can sometimes be hard to come up with a list like I'm mentioning. However, this book was easily at the top of the list without a second thought. If I had to pick one book by de Bono (and I own many), this would be it. I consider Simplicity to be his finest work. In Simplicity, de Bono takes a clear honest look at what simplicity really is.

One of de Bono's main ideas, which he comes to again and again through his books, is that thinking is a skill that must be taught, it is not innate to us as humans. Sure, we can string thoughts together, but he believes that we must practice in order to really think. That's pretty radical if you stop to ponder what that really means.

In a similar fashion, de Bono addresses simplicity in this book. Simplicity is also a skill that must be taught. Many people pay lip service to simplicity, it's a buzzword, something to put on performance appraisals or on advertising. However, what is simplicity, really; how do you do it? How do you know you've made things simpler? How do you go about making things simpler? Ask yourself this question and I'll bet that you're hard pressed to answer in anything other than mere generalities.

De Bono talks all about simplicity with refreshingly clear writing without marketing talk or Death Sentences. In retrospect, now know that I had no idea what simplicity was before reading this book. Now, it is something that I am beginning to learn and, I suspect, will always have to relearn. I have a lot of respect for people who can make things simple for, as de Bono points out, simplicity is gained by shifting complexity somewhere else.

This book has affected my whole approach to looking at just about everything. It is not enough for me to wish things to be simple, as if I could snap my fingers (which I could never do anyway) and make it all come true. It is no longer good enough for me to call things simpler when I have no way of reckoning that. I have to create simplicity as I go along. I have to think about it. If I don't, it won't happen. I have to be willing to start over to make things simple.

And I have to keep trying.

This book woke me up about simplicity. It gave me some tools to try to make it happen. It made me want to keep trying.

That's why this book is #1 on the list.

Stay tuned for further postings.