Book: Blink

Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking

by Malcolm Gladwell

Summary: An anecdotal and scientific investigation into whether initial impressions are helpful or hindering.  Packed with examples, it includes tips on when to recognize which situation is which.

Intended Audience: Anyone who has every had a gut feeling that they should read this book

Why You Should Read It: This book dives deeply yet accessibly into the nature of gut feelings and demonstrates that these initial feelings are highly accurate in a large number of situations (but not all!). If the impact of your decisions is small or the risk is acceptable, you can save a lot of time and effort by relying on these thin-slicing impressions.  However, if the consequences of being wrong are quite high, then initial reactions should form only one tool of many in your decision process.  There are some riveting examples of blink impressions in action, of which the most compelling for me was Paul van Riper’s contributions to the Millenium Challenge war game exercise.

My Takeaways

  • The key to successful improv comedy is to always build positively on what is given to you. Negativity shuts doors; positively opens new avenues. There is a team lesson in there.
  • The numerous facial muscles autonomically reveal our true inner emotions. I think my autonomic response is stronger than average since I can’t keep a straight face.
  • To help understand whether your first impressions are correct, you may need to slow yourself down and avoid situations where you cannot help by automatically act.

Recommended?: Possibly his best book, and I really liked The Tipping Point