“Duhigg uses engaging storytelling to highlight fascinating research and core principles that we can all learn and use in our daily lives. A masterful must-read for anyone who wants to get more (and more creative) stuff done.”
—David Allen, bestselling author of Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity
No doubt about it, Charles Duhigg is an intellectual powerhouse. He’s a Pulitzer Prize winner, Yale graduate, former journalist for both the Los Angeles Times and the New York Times, and a master of telling profound stories about metacognition.
Both of his books, The Power of Habit and Smarter, Faster, Better, have had such a profound impact on my life. While his first book The Power of Habit focuses on habit formation, Smarter, Faster, Better focuses on goal setting.
One gem I found in this book is told through a story about a football coach. He had his players trained to automatically react to cues in certain ways. Because they had prepared reactions to certain actions, there was no waisted mental time. So musically, I relate this to my practice routine. When I have a precious few minutes to practice, I am ready to go with a firm idea of what I am going to practice and for how long.
I also found Duhigg’s segment on data engagement particularly useful in the context of music education. He talks about how learning is simplified by breaking down large chunks of data into folders and subfolders, and how secondary steps will become operative for digesting information. He calls this concept creating disfluency. Write it down, use it in a sentence, use it in context, do something with data other than just collecting it.
As a musician, this might mean transcribing that piece you want to learn instead of buying the sheet music. Analyze the chords, transpose, reharmonize…imagine that the quickest and easiest way to ‘learn’ that piece of music might not be the best. Taking time to digest and absorb thoughts and concepts can often be the key to optimal growth.