Book review: An unused intelligence

There are many different theories about learning, but not a single one of them states, that the best way to learn, is to sit passively on a chair, while a teacher talks about the subject in question. No theory ever in the history of the world has claimed it, and yet this is how schools, colleges, universities, business training and countless other learning concepts operate.

This book subtitled “Physical thinking for 21st century leadership” marks a departure from that school of thought and describes a way to ground learning in the body.

The book is mainly inspired by Aikido. Aikido is a martial art, whose basic tenet is not to meet force with force, but to seek harmony between seperate forces.

The book describes a number of exercises that you can do alone in pairs or in groups. Each exercise is designed to stimulate reflection on an aspect of teamwork or leadership. The goal of almost all the exercises is to enable you to remain centered and to create harmony among opposing forces. Being centered means “reconnecting with yourself by increasing your awareness of what is going on, and accepting things as they are on your current reality.”

Thus the book advocates a very different world view than what is common in business today. Many people play business (or even life) as a zero sum game: If I am to win, somebody must lose. Traditional eastern philosophy, which is also present in many martial arts, is more open to the fact that everything is related and connected, and that if I defeat you, I also lose. That the goal is to allow everybody to win.

The exercises are described in detail with pictures, are extremely simple and can be performed by anyone. I haven’t actually tried any of them yet, but they look effective.

Apart from the exercises, the book contains background reading explaining the exercises and reall life stories that demonstrate the need for and power of physical learning.

It’s about time we learn to include the body when we learn, and I recommend this book to anyone interested in exploring this topic.

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