BOOKCASE : Your Brain at Work

David Rock • Harper Business • $49.99

Our brain reacts positively to storytelling – I’m sure of that. David Rock, business consultant, leadership coach and author of Your Brain at Work, is obviously convinced of it.
He’s adopted the technique to get cut through in an intensely competitive and increasingly populated segment of the book-publishing market. The genre of self-help literature is exploding and crowding bookshelves in response to both the increasing assault of everyday work and life demands and, because the brain is the new frontier from which we seek pearls of understanding to help us cope.
The messages of this book may not be radically different from others in the bookshops, but the way in which Rock presents his findings certainly is and, quite frankly, it works. Rock has done the hard yards of information gathering, surveying and analysis of existing neurological science. If that sounds daunting, it’s not. He tells his story and delivers his lessons through fictional characters working to manage typical Monday. His heroes, Emily and Paul and their families, are everyday you and me.
Your Brain at Work is “play” consisting of four acts. The first two are about “your own brain” and the second two “focus on interacting with other people’s brains”. And there is an intermission which Rock uses to “explore some of the deeper themes” emerging from his story.
The book, written in accessible story-like language, explains the strengths and shortcomings of the brain and embeds those explanations into an everyday context. It is alive with plausible situations such as managing the morning avalanche of emails, dealing with multi-tasking, manipulating the multiple meeting syndrome and coping with the host of other obstacles that cloud and confuse our everyday agenda of good intentions.
The brain is Rock’s stage. Your thoughts are the actors. Your self-awareness/self-mastery is the director.
Not surprisingly, the book finishes with an “encore” which effectively summarises the science of brain research and looks at its increasingly significant implications. Rock includes list of further resources and provides an extensive annotated bio­graphy about the studies he drew on for his conclusions and suggestions.
I was sceptical when I picked this book for review. By tale’s end, I was captivated and grateful for the advice it contained.

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