Sunday, 10 May 2015

Review: Black Hole Focus by Isaiah Hankel


Publisher: Capstone (Wiley)
Publication Date: May 5th 2014
Genre: Self-Help
Source: Free at Conference
Rating: 2.5 stars


Create your purpose. Change your life.

Don't get stuck on a path you have no passion for. Don't waste your intelligence on something that doesn't excite or motivate you. Let Isaiah Hankel help you define a focus so powerful that everything in your life will be pulled towards it.

Be focused. Be fulfilled. Be successful.

It's time to take control and think about your strategy for life. Whatever experience or qualifications you have right now, you can start living purposefully today.

Doctor and Fortune 500 consultant Isaiah Hankel is an internationally recognized expert in the biotecholnology industry and specializes in helping people transition out of unfulfilling jobs onto cutting-edge career tracks. 

In Black Hole Focus, Isaiah shows you how to hone your purpose so that everything you do stays true to that ultimate focus. You will discover why you need a purpose, how to find it and then crucially how to fulfill that purpose and get all that you deserve in life.

Escape the things you hate in life - and get everything you've ever wanted.

2.5 seems a mean rating, but I'm trying to stop inflating my ratings. 

So, this is - I think - the first self-help book I've ever read. In my defence, it was free, and I don't waste free things if I can help it. 

The author pitches well to his audience's egos - 99% of the people at this conference had PhDs, so he sucks up to them saying "Personal Development for Smart People". If you want people to buy things, make it about them.

So, what did I think of the book? It started off well, and I liked the story about how he got to this place. It went downhill about a third of the way through, though, and got very unoriginal. I haven't even read other self-help books, and I've still heard a lot of this stuff before. Isaiah's style is pretty motivational, but seeing as I could replicate that myself I wasn't too impressed. The case studies annoyed me most of the time - they seemed very artificial.

All that said, I did love some parts. Here's what I highlighted.

"Once your amygdala finds negative information, it immediately transfers this information into your long-term memory ... Positive experiences have to be held in awareness for more than twelve seconds in order for your brain to transfer them from your short-term to long-term memory banks. This is why most people instantly forget praises, but can remember a single criticism for years."

I liked this, because it was an interesting explanation and rang true. It saddens me that I can't remember compliments. Another thing I've noticed is that I never ever notice or remember people applauding when I leave stages, even though I'm sure they're doing it. My brain, high on adrenaline, just blocks it out.

Another part I liked was when he talked about how he would always run faster in athletics when his coach shouted "Last one, give everything." This isn't really a surprise - of course you're going to give more when you know how many are left. But it was presented well in the book, so kudos for that. He extrapolated from this to say "Defining the path in front of you will give you the energy you need to complete it."

He then had a chapter saying the end is where we start from. I loved the story about Jim Carrey, then broke and jobless, writing himself a check for $10 million, dated for eight years into the future. Seven years later, he discovered his pay for the movie Dumb & Dumber was $10 million.

Now, stories like these tend to set alarms ringing in my head by how perfectly coincidental they are. But it was still nice to read. 

There was also some good writing advice: "the best way to write a script is to construct a plot by writing backwards from the climax, using reverse cause and effect."

Something that hit me fairly hard was about the pointlessness of to-do lists and constantly chasing the next achievement - that's, according to the book, "tactician" behaviour, when you should be going for "strategist". 

There was also this quote from Tim Ferriss: "It's lonely at the top. Ninety-nine percent of people in this world are convinced they are incapable of achieving great things, so they aim for the mediocre. The level of competition is thus fiercest for "realistic" goals, paradoxically making them the most time- and energy-consuming."

The author is not a fan of uni labs, saying "all the post-docs and assistant professors I knew lived in 10-foot by 10-foot prison cells called labs, repeating experiments and writing grant proposals that failed to get funded 93% of the time."

This is a bit discouraging, Isaiah. Screw you. Ah well, I know I'm going to have to change academia up a bit anyway. 

He recommended writing down the position you want, and said that what you fear writing the most is often what you want the most. 

I loved this bit: "The Pygmalion effect is a phenomenon where the greater the expectation placed on a person, the better he or she performs." I've definitely noticed this in my own life, and it's exactly why I put so much pressure on myself - because I know I can do it. I usually only fail to do things because I don't set proper goals, and that is from me, not some self-help book. 

So - was reading the book worthwhile? I guess so. It's always good to read, and non-fiction broadens the mind. There were certainly some interesting points - I just got sick of him going on about things that only apply to adults.

When oh when will a book have me as its target audience?