Greetings readers and learners! As I mentioned on an earlier post, I’m generally reading or learning something at all times, and I’m on a bit of a quest to figure out how to learn more efficiently. Today I’m reviewing two books on mental models and coaching as well as a course that purports to take your learning skills to the next level.
This book by Peter Hollins was an easy-going short read. Mental models are simply frameworks to approach problems. A few examples include Occam’s razor, thinking of what you are trying to avoid, an anti-todo list, and being cautious of outliers. Solving problems is something that is a big part of my current career and also something I just enjoy in general. I don’t remember where I originally heard the concept of a “mental model”, although once I did, it was challenging to choose a book because there seemed to be so many. This book offered some interesting perspectives on the subject but I couldn’t help but wonder if there was a more comprehensive book on the subject, or perhaps one focused on software engineering specifically. I would recommend this work as an introduction to the subject.
Michael Bungay Stanier’s book really floored me. Every aspect of this book is fantastic, from the design and layout of the chapters to the content itself. It is evident the author spent a lot of time thinking about how to present this information in an efficient yet memorable way.
“The Coaching Habit” is a worthwhile read not just for leaders, managers, and coaches, but also anybody who wants to improve their ability to help others. We all face little opportunities to coach others whether it’s in our job description or not. I would highly recommend this for anyone looking to become more helpful to those around them.
Jonathan Levi’s course is a lot of work. I must be honest that I did not follow the syllabus or do the homework assignments like the instructor suggests, rather I listened to the course on the metro and on the walk home, and tried to apply it to the things I was learning at the time. The course can be divided into two sections: speed reading and improving your memory.
The instructor has an interesting perspective on the process of learning, and I found that even with my limited engagement with the materials, I’ve noticed some improvements both with my memory and my ability to read quickly. It’s encouraged me enough to ponder revisiting the materials to see if I can improve even more. That being said, I wish he had more examples of how to implement “memory markers” and “memory palaces” for tougher more abstract subjects like programming algorithms or foreign languages. Given the price, especially if you wait for one of those nearly constant Udemy sales, I’d say this course would be a good buy for folks who love to learn and want to take their ability to synthesize, remember, and apply their knowledge to the next level.