New addition to The Library in St. Pete

December 20, 2012

The latest addition to The Library in St. Pete is Three Simple Steps,  authored by Trevor Blake, the highly successful entrepreneur who founded BPV portfolio company QOL Medical.

Mr. Blake says he developed his simple steps – take control of your mentality, learn to generate winning ideas, and turn ideas into real achievements – by studying the biographies of self-made men and women:

Andrew Carnegie taught me how to control my thoughts. From Henry Ford, I learned how to generate moments of insight. And J. Paul Getty helped me understand how to turn imagination into a concrete achievement.

A theme that emerges throughout the book is the importance of maintaining the optimism of a successful entrepreneur.  For instance, he points out that it’s vital to encourage employees to report bad news while still keeping their criticism directed at solving a problem:

There’s a big difference between bringing your attention to something that’s awry and a complaint.  Typically, people who are complaining don’t want a solution; they just want you to join in the indignity of the whole thing. You can almost hear brains clink when six people get together and start saying, ‘Isn’t it terrible?’ This will damage your brain even if you’re just passively listening. And if you try to change their behavior, you’ll become the target of the complaint.

Trevor also emphasizes the importance of maintaining a calm, clear mind – especially when trying to come up with a key insight or creative breakthrough.  When he urges the reader to allow solutions to “percolate up” from subconscious thinking, he’s making an argument similar to the one we blogged on in our recent series of posts on thinking consciously, unconsciously, and semi-consciously.  We referenced an HBSWK piece entitled The Unconscious Executive in which the author maintains that “deliberation without attention” supports the kind of mental organization needed for making complex decisions and improving creativity:

Here is an example of unconscious thought. Imagine you are listening to a song and can’t remember the name of the artist. You try to think hard, but are still unable to come up with it. So you tell yourself, “I’ll stop thinking about it, and it will come to me in a minute.” This is fascinating. In fact, there is an automatic process that continues to work on your question in the back of your mind. We call that process “unconscious thought.”

Unconscious thought can do more than just help you remember facts. It actually has the power to fuel the creative process. Have you ever found yourself struggling with the wording while writing a paper, but after taking time away from it, you’re able to quickly find the right words? This is your unconscious mind at work.

While our conscious mind is focused on other matters, our unconscious mind can process the relevant information we need to make important decisions.

Trevor cites a study from Temple University to make a similar case about what he terms “subconscious thinking“:

 A study from the Center for Neural Decision Making at Temple University found that when people take the time to quiet down the left brain — that’s the part of our brain that’s processing to-do-lists — solutions often percolate up from the subconscious. After a period of not thinking about the problem, the answer simply appears. The more these study participants were able to let go, the more activation was seen in the part of the brain associated with enhanced vigilance and awareness — exactly what you need if you’re looking for a new idea.




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