What Owen Didn’t Know by Laurence Endersen

Summary

  1. A short, beautiful book reminding us what is truly important

Key Takeaways

  1. Owen and Rose spoke for no more than a few minutes, but a lot can happen in a few minutes. Life is funny that way. 
  2. The Danes have two words for play: spille for structured play, like soccer or board games, and lege for open-ended, imaginative play with no specific goal. Rose saw learning to play as a prerequisite for any balanced life. As an only child she appreciated how much joy she got from playing with the other children on her road
  3. Life is paradox and contrast. More constructively, Owen also recalled his dad advising that if you wanted to get the best from people you should build on their strengths, rather than try to correct weakness. Weakness can be coached to average, but strength can be leveraged to the moon. People are highly motivated by achievement and recognition. Give them a reputation to live up to. When staff presented their work to Owen, he always had one question for them: Is this your best work? He asked nicely, and invariably they would come back with something far better. This created a virtuous cycle, and the partners at NT soon saw that practically everything that came out of Owen’s team was first-class. Everyone in his team was now working to protect and promote the reputation of the team.
  4. The first default setting relates to conversation. Are you a listener or a talker? In our conversations,w e can default to a lecturing lens or a listening lens. The rooster can crow at 142 decibels, which is like being within 100 meters of a roaring jet engine. That’s almost deafening. So why doesn’t the rooster deafen itself? Because when it opens its beak, it shuts off its ear canals. Sound familiar? Too many of us are roosters. Or crocodiles – all mouth, no ears.
  5. Stress is wrestling with reality
  6. Tiny improvements forever
  7. Rose had read numerous psychology books. She had studied the Stoics. But there is a deep chasm between understanding something intellectually and knowing it viscerally. That’s the gap between the label and experience. She wasn’t going to magically forge advantage from adversity simply by reading about how others had done it. No amount of reading, philosophizing, or indeed writing could have protected her from such an unexpected loss. Loss of friendship. Loss of love. Loss of even caring about loss.

What I got out of it

  1. A beautiful story to remind us all to be here now and focus on the things that truly matter