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About the Author
When he asked David Amram, widely billed as the foremost living American composer, if any of the "juice" in their discussion were already in print anywhere, Amram commented that David brings out the best in him. His book will do that for you, as well.
Read an Excerpt
Everything Is Connected
Dear fellow-artist, why so free With every sort of company, With every Jack and Jill? Choose your companions from the best; Who draws a bucket with the rest Soon topples down the hill.
— To A Young Beauty W.B. Yeats
As I begin with students, but referring to their ears since they're listening, not reading: with one eye follow what I am saying, as you do with everything else; with the other follow how I am saying it. You'll get better and better at it, just as people of all ages do, coordinating their right and left hands in all kinds of athletics and music tasks, and as with music and athletics, the better you get at that, the better all the information here falls into place.
Every good teacher teaches math, science, history, accounting, engineering, medicine, or law, and the rest the same way, with brief anecdotes and analogies illustrating each point, somewhat differently. Come to think of it, so does every musician and athlete do things much the same way, somewhat differently. While teaching a lesson, I'm demonstrating and explaining that process of using illitrative anecdotes and analogies at the same time, breaking it down into its components and putting them back together, the way athletics and music teachers do, and pretty much every other subject is taught.
That process is also evident in everything else you read, perhaps without your having noticed it before because you were unaware of its signficance. Writers and conference speakers are utilizing similar components in different ways all the time, just as athletes and artists of all kinds in every médium are. Even when the words or notes are pre-ordained, everyone performs Shakespeare and Beethoven differently. Since that skill is the one Common Bond between every expert in every subject, that is obviously the The Key Skill of All Skills to learn. You will soon see why else that key skill is of monumental importance to every aspect of your life, that there is far more to it than meets the eye, and a-n-y-o-n-e can learn it if they try, just as anyone can learn to play music, sports, dance, cook, and most anything else, and will get better at it faster and more easily, the more systematically they try, which you will also soon see how to do.
Here is the essence of what this most unique of all self-improvement books teaches in intricate detail: people can only transform themselves, as all the other books on the subject tell them to do one way or another, to the degree that they are able to transform what is going on around and inside them, by analogy, into other things like it in the world at large, as all those other books and articles do on every page, often in their very titles like Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus, Re-Engineering the Corporation, Chicken Soup for the Soul, and all The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People in Stephen Covey's Table of Contents, without showing readers the one skill on which all the rest of their advice hinges: how that is done. Such people seem to write and speak brilliantly because they have brilliant ideas, when in reality it's the opposite: brilliant ideas come to them because the narrative structure, with which they observe, reflect upon, and respond to events is so sound, just as you have to put up a Christmas tree, Menorah, or what have you before you can hang the ornaments or light the candles that make it beautiful and meaningful.
People's ornaments — their brilliant ideas — likewise remain stuck in their closet, so to speak, because they never properly learned how to use in their daily lives the narrative structure in the books and magazines they studied in school or continue to read only for the content on its surface, so they could get past the next test or meeting, date, or athletic competition. Like playing a sport or musical instrument, what Blanchard, Robbins, Covey, Dyer, and the rest do is to some degree a talent, but largely a skill that anyone, who can read, can learn and master, to accomplish which the book includes exercises and drills like those that athletes and musicians do to improve their strength, speed, stamina, flexibility, timing, and touch putting thoughts and feelings into words. Furthermore, just as athletes and musicians — or ordinary school students in classes of all kinds — continually apply things they already learned to acquire new skills, even without ever being taught how to do that, themselves, The Key Skill of All Skills shows people how to acquire the most basic life comprehension and transformation skills — putting one thing and another together — then putting more and more pieces of the puzzle in their mind together, and using them in ever new ways, the more they know about the process. Old saying: a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. None is even more dangerous. That isn't just an example of what I'm talking about; it happens to be true.
Even First Graders are amazed — and delighted — by how much they already know, when given a chance to use it, to understand what they don't. Such examples occur throughout the book. It is AMAZING to think of, but very, very few people are ever shown how to LEARN in that sense at all — recognizing in a heartbeat how what they don't understand is similar to what they already know, and I'll say at the outset that I'm dubious of any other approach, as I will also show throughout the book, and leave it for you to decide. In fact, I'm so confident that there isn't one — other than committing information to memory and clustering it together as much as possible, which becomes increasingly problematic, the more there is to know — I'm challenging all ye readers to find one. See whether they don't describe their approach My Way, without explaining how they do it, which is like Paul Anka, who wrote the song, "My Way" for Frank Sinatra, knowing that every word of it would ring true to everyone who knew anything about him, neglecting to include the many key ways he did things his way throughout his life. Better yet, the way Sinatra sings the song in an almost ordinary speaking voice, as one can easily imagine he actually does talk, is what makes it sound all the more true. That, too, you will learn how to do here, and more, much more than this, to do it ... yoooour waaaaay.
With that said, make no mistake about it: for all that even true geniuses in their own right and countless scholars have pored over Shakespeare and Dante their whole lives, no one — or very few, if you want to include Joyce and Proust, Tolstoy and Dostoevsky, and a handfull of others in that realm, who will be noted by and by — has managed to come up with their like in all the centuries since they pulled off their stunts. The idea here isn't to equal anyone else, except ... the best you can become. The real difference between the Sinatra impoisonators and the many, many other originals in their own right, is as much a matter of doing it their way, rather than attempting to do it Sinatra's, as sheer talent, BUT ... doing that required learning a whole lotta skills, which we will cover in detail.
What is rarely noted by sports or artistic commentators, or observed by the less well-tutored audience participants, is the ever-present challenge, which both groups constantly train to attain, to remain relaxed while exerting themselves, so as to prevent tenseness from impeding their progress. Former Indiana University coach, Bobby Knight, suggested as much when commenting about an incident during a televised basketball game, that one of the hardest things for athletes to learn is not doing what they can't; in other words, exerting themselves where they are no longer relaxed. The greater proficiency they acquire in their endeavor, the more they can exert themselves and still maintain that balance at moments of peak effort. Likewise, in commuicating or learning about any activity, in any venue.
Too few people ever even aspire to a level of performance at anything where that groove is enough of a factor to be noticeable, so they are unaware of its significance in every actvity and venue, from being in a Kindergarten classroom to a corporate board room, or at times their very own kitchen, and wind up uncomfortable in situations throughout their lives, often reacting counter-productively to compensate for being at a loss. The few exceptions where being relaxed is noted in athletics, the performing arts, business, and test taking, for example, I've never heard that dichotomy being discussed in any detail, much less stressed; just the same old advice, "Try to Relax." Countless people fail to achieve their potential in any of several endeavors that might have led them to others, or spoil personal relationships, merely for want of understanding the necessity of focusing on both exerting and relaxing themselves, and increasing their ability to do each simultaneously. As I will show again and again, you acquire that skill the same way you learned everything else and millions of people work out in gyms every day: breaking it down into its components, focusing on them separately, and putting them back together, over and over.
Formulating information comprehensibly is reassuring, relaxing. Merely knowing you know how to is, as well. Being unable to is stressful and hindering. I often challenged misbehaving students to sit still for a single minute, who scoffed at the idea, then couldn't. The one time I knew immediately that one of them would pull the trick off, he relaxed instead of clenching still. One in a thousand may sense the concept intuitively; the other 999 can learn it here, among many, many other simple but powerful concepts and techniques, all of which spring from formulating information the way everything you read does, with illustrative anecdotes and analogies putting what you don't understand in perspective with what you already know. Like most tasks, doing that a certain way makes all the difference, as Hamlet instructs the actors performing the mousetrap scene to catch the King. You can learn to do that better and better, just as you are able to continually learn how to do many, many other things better, if not quite as well as Shakespeare did. No one else has, for all the glorious, fantastic tales told since his. Every magazine is full of articles, in which anecdotes and analogies are used skillfully. I'll also show you how to make the most of reading each.
The HUGE difference, however, between mere incremental learning one step at a time, to which every other self-improvement book of any kind is limited because it takes for granted that readers possess that skill of using illustrative anecdotes and analogies, and what I am doing here, is that I am not just applying what you already know about every other subject — cooking, gardening, even just driving a car — to everything else you don't know, as those authors do, but showing you how to do that, yourselves, so your learning progress becomes geometrically accelerated! What's more, it turns out that learning and communicating are as interrelated as breathing in and out: the better you get at putting things in terms of others like it, the better you see how things you don't understand are similar to things you already know, in a heartbeat.
THAT is why some people seem so much smarter than others, pick up the ball so much easier, and do them better: everything they do is cross-referential and benefits everything else they do. It isn't brain wattage, like most teachers and managers think; it's how they use the light they have, again having the flexibility to shine it from one place to another, the stamina to shine it on a third and a fourth, the speed to get back to the point, the timing with which they put them together, and the touch with which they bring them to bear on the matter at hand. A Fourth Grader, whose desk faced the Guidance office across the hall, which had a "Think Outside the Box' sign on it, asked if the way I talk — relating one piece of information to others like it — is how you GET outside the box. We then discussed people "thinking" that inside the box is safe and outside it is dangerous, when the antithesis is the case. People get lost much easier trapped IN the box — or the boxes around their immediate one, which seem so obvious, they're overlooked — than if they escape it and learn how to use anything and everything outside the box in the box.
No more are speed, strength, stamina, flexibility, timing, and touch separate from, or unrelated, to each other than the content, form, style, and tone of what we say or write, as well as their many sub-components, like characters, actions, settings, and time frames, or foreground and background, just as the speed with which a shortstop tosses a ball can't be separated from timing it when the second baseman will be crossing the bag and the right touch for him to handle it.
All I am doing is applying the way literary critics examine literature and the arts to Everyday Life. Text is text. What no one else seems to realize is that so is everything going on around and within you, and how well we respond to events is determined by how well we compose or formulate it, ourselves, the same as using the right math equations for a situation. Therapists and psychologists of course know that things are going on there, but for some reason don't treat it as information like everything they learned and wrote about during their extensive educations, presumably because that is outside the realms of them. True, there are visual, audial, and kinetic pieces of information, BUT ... we have to transpose them to language — this way — to share them with others and maximize their usefulness. This book explains in intricate detail how to use all the arts to better understand how to learn and communicate better. The books that tout Multiple Intelligences and other methodologies don't.
If you poke around a U.C. San Diego online course through https://Coursera.org called Learning How to Learn, https://class.coursera.org/learning-001/lecture, as but one example of why I say such attempts should be called Learning ABOUT How to Learn — and bear in mind that these are major university professors — whereas The Coloring Book for Thinking takes people directly to the chase, as it's known The entire first module, "Introduction to the focused and diffuse modes," is based on a pinball game analogy, adding at some point that it's a good idea to use analogies like that, without so much as a clue as to how they are engendered or someone masters that skill, much less utilitizes it to the fullest,. Better still, how does someone revert from diffuse to focused modes? I asks ya, is not my Simple Concept of using what everyone already knows about the arts, the way paintings have foreground and background — and the different parts of an orchestra variously perform foreground and background parts of music, or a band does and singers sing them — more coherent and useful than trying to conceptualize, much less be focused or diffuse, in and of themselves? I also discuss the relationship between realistic art and abstract art, and delve further into the way abstractions and realities are interwoven in both literature and everyday matters. What the heck are focused and diffuse modes but realities and abstractions, the interplay between which I also cover, again in intricate detail, to protect my readers from that and all such dichotomy viruses. To borrow the immortal John Belushi's famous plaint, "But nooooo ..." that's too obvious for the Ph.D's not to overlook.
Ever look on the box of over the counter medicines to see what Active Ingredient the less expensive generic ones may have in common with more expensive name brands? Do the same with the Eckhardt Tolle, Tony Robbins, Wayne Dyer, or whomever you please's remedies. That's the Active Ingredient. Then you might take a look at some of the great literary works and towering figures of psychology, and examine how they differ from the aforementioned ones. Just because generics have the same ingredients doesn't mean they're the same strength or as long lasting. This is the one book that explains both their similarities and differences, like the slip inside medicine packages that shows the chemical bond diagram, only I will also explain how every facet of the chain works, affects the rest, and the whole process works together.
Excerpted from "The Key Skill of All Skills"
Copyright © 2017 David Myers.
Excerpted by permission of Gatekeeper Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Everything Is Connected,
Why Everyone Should Read This Book,
Welcome to Reality The World of Words,
Lesson One Learning How to Learn First,
Lesson Two Expecting the Unexpected: The Lessons Within The Lesson,
Lesson Three Getting in Touch with Reality,
Lesson Four The Coloring Book for Thinking,
Lesson Five The Coloring Book for LIVING: Relationship Building,
Lesson Six The Coloring Book for Preventing, Curing, or Modifying Disorders from Shyness to Alzheimer's,
Lesson Seven Life As A Reading Comprehension Test,
Lesson Eight The Art of Living As Art Lives,
Lesson Nine Panoramic Thinking,
Lesson Ten Proofreading Your Life,
About the Author,