Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Book Review: Pebbles of Perception

As a value investor in Indian stock markets, I’ve always believed  in identifying 2-3 good stock ideas which could transform my life. This is exactly what Laurence Endersen mentions on cover page his book – ‘How a few good choices make all the difference’. I picked up this book for its interesting name - ‘Pebbles of Perception’ and to know how to make those few choices to make the difference.

This is a short book which could be finished in a 3-4 sessions, but thoughts shared would need lot more reflection which may take more time. Read this book one time, read this book second time, come back to read this book third time. I assure, you won’t feel let down.  

Author covers the length and breadth of his book in 3 ‘C’s – Curiosity, Character and Choice. The first two Cs provide foundation for the third C. Author strikingly relates 3 Cs when he says - ‘Our call to action is to be Curious, and build Character and make better choices’.

The Curiosity part of the book generates enough curiosity for rest of the journey. Author introduces Curiosity by highlighting significance of asking questions. The ‘Why’ question helps one probe further and deep dive to get better perspectives. Author makes a strong case for focusing on ‘Good Questions’ than ‘Good Answers’.

Mr. Endersen further expands the concept of Curiosity by introducing concept of Lifelong Learning. Author believes, it would be easy to navigate life at a certain level of competence, but to become expert one needs to follow concept of lifelong learning. Reading has been highlighted as a fountain for lifelong learning. Listening, incentives for remaining curious & context consideration complete the pentagon of Curiosity. Context consideration is somewhat a complex concept to grasp. Author explains it beautifully when he says “Absolutes are rare birds. We should choose assessments over assertions”.  

Racing past the Curiosity portion of book would increase your appetite for core of the book – Character. Author introduces 8 concepts for character building –focusing on what one wants to achieve in life, being emotionally intelligent, freeing oneself from fear, knowing oneself better, being kind to one’s parents, being a good negotiator, managing adverse situations, be a true friend & simple person.

Each of these dots have been explained in detail by enlightening the readers with importance of good character building. The Octagon of Character building is bit heavy part and consumes maximum reading time but I guess building a character is a lost skill in today’s society. One shouldn’t mind spending bit more time on this portion to grasp the key concepts.

Now comes the most practical aspect and the very reason why I picked up the book – Choice (the What). Author says - “Our ability to Choose is one of life’s great gifts. We are product of our choices. Good choices come from good character, and a few good choices make all the difference”.

This is the portion where author goes berserk and addresses all important choices of one’s life - career, experiences, and places to stay, having children, savings and taking important decisions in life.  

The whole book has been weaved in short chapters which doesn’t let readers wander away. Some of the concepts may look too theoretical with limited practical application, but author has consistently reinforced the thoughts by sharing relevant examples.

Blaise Pascal once said: “The least movement is of importance to all nature. The entire ocean is affected by a pebble.” This Pebble could certainly create ripples in one’s life journey.

Grab it, devour it!