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The 5 Elements of Effective Thinking

4.06  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,591 Ratings  ·  240 Reviews
The coauthors are mathematics professors. Burger teaches at Wiliams College; Starbird at The University of Texas at Austin. Here, they “reveal the hidden powers of deep understanding (earth), failure (fire), questions (air), the flow of ideas (water), and the quintessential element of change that brings all four elements together. By mastering and applying these practical ...more
Hardcover, 157 pages
Published August 26th 2012 by Princeton University Press
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Jun 30, 2015 Ken rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I found it insightful and important.

1. Understand basic ideas deeply

2. Learn from mistakes

3. Raise questions

4. Follow flow of ideas

5. Embrace change
Aug 23, 2016 طارق rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: You
So last year I finished reading The Six Thinking Hat…

and this year I read The Five Elements of Effective Thinking…

I guess Four more years are left to crack the code of the mind

Although the book is about the mind, it’s far from being theoretical. As Goethe once said: knowing is not enough; we must apply.. The book is worthless unless you repeatedly practice each of the 5 elements.
It’s basically a guide to develop certain habits. I found it useful as it reiterates some earlier knowledge and pre
Mathias Bear
Aug 30, 2013 Mathias Bear rated it it was amazing
To say that this book is life-changing would be premature, but it wouldn't be hyperbole. I have not read a book that challenged me so deeply on so many levels in years. I have never rightly considered how I think before. Why do I think the way I do? It is a good and effective way of thinking? Is my thinking "style" one that will aid me or hinder me as I pursue a more fulfilling life?

I have spent so much time thinking, searching, beating myself for answers to big questions Now, after reading this
Mariah Burton Nelson
This brief, highly readable book challenges readers on several fronts, and includes several good quotes:

Picasso: I begin with an idea then it becomes something else."
"A ship in port is safe, but that's not what ships are built for." Admiral Grace Murray Hopper
"In a chronically leaking boat, energy expended to changing vessels is more productive than energy devoted to patching leaks." – Warren Buffett

The five elements:

1) Earth: Strive for Rock-Solid Understanding
2) Fire: Fail and learn from miss
Sep 07, 2012 Mason rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I would like to say "I already knew that" after reading this book, but that would not be true. Here is a distillation of some helpful tips on getting your mind right, acting on what you know, and never -ever- stop learning.
Hussain AlMarkhi
Mar 06, 2016 Hussain AlMarkhi rated it really liked it
إستمعت الى هذا الكتاب في ما يقارب الـ3 ساعات وقد اعجبني كثيرا .. يربط العناصر 5 التي هي في العنوان ببعض مكونات الكرة الارضية

1. الارض: يشير الكاتب الى التعمق وفهم الافكار بشكل عميق
2. النار: قم بعمل اخطاء لا تجعل اهدافك تتحقق من اول محاولة ضع في الحسبان انه لديك 10 محاولات وفي المرة 10 حتما سوف تنجح و 9 محاولات كانت لتضيف لك المزيد من الخبرة و المهارات
3. السماء: عليك بالسؤال دائما ضع اسئلة لكل شيء في الدراسة في العمل مع اصدقاء ابحث عن اساله تفتح لك افاق جديدة لم تكن تفكر بها مسبقا.
4. الماء: أنظر م
Jun 22, 2014 Jared rated it it was ok
Shelves: business-books

1. Grounding Your Thinking
1. Understand simple things deeply
2. Clear the clutter - seek the essential
3. See what’s there
4. See what’s missing
5. Final Thoughts: Deeper thinking is better
3. Igniting Insights through Mistakes
1. Welcome accidental missteps-let errors be your guide
2. Finding the right question to the wrong answer
3. Failing by intent
4. Final Thoughts: A modified mind-set
5. Creating Questions out of Thin Air
1. How answers can lead to questions
2. Creating questions enliven
Aug 20, 2013 Janelle rated it really liked it
This book doesn't fall within my normal reading territory, but it's good to read outside the box sometimes. The book entered my radar because one of its authors (Burger) is my alma mater's new president.

As others have stated, this is a quick read - but an engaging and pleasant one. Essentially, it's a book about how to think and learn better. It's a great choice for a new college student (any student, really), for teachers, and for anyone in a life transition. Okay, I guess it's good for anyone
Mario Tomic
Oct 29, 2014 Mario Tomic rated it really liked it
Finished reading this book recently, nothing really ground breaking but it's well put together in one single place so there is value into reading and reminding yourself of these concepts.

The 5 elements from the book are:
1. Understand Deeply, go for depth and make a rock solid base in anything you wanna achieve.
2. Make Mistakes, correct solutions rarely come from the first attempt so be persistent and assume your gonna make mistakes.
3. Raise Questions, be ready to challenge concepts and solutions
Surya Kumar
Oct 07, 2015 Surya Kumar rated it it was amazing
This book is so practical how to think by comparing with 5 earth elements.
1. Ground: Understand Deeply.
2. Fire: Make Mistakes.
3. Sky: Raise Questions.
4. Water: Follow the Flow of Ideas.
5. Change.
A must read for everyone to enhance the way of thinking.
Jan 29, 2015 Blakely rated it really liked it
I quite liked this little book!

I stumbled upon it as I was searching for another book in the library - Thinking Fast and Slow. TFAS happened to be located in a section of the library that I think must be named non-fiction books designed to interest Blakely, as almost every book in that section I had either already read and liked, wanted to read, or sounded really interesting. The title for this book and it's small size intrigued me so I picked it up.

This book focuses on better ways to learn, cr
Jul 05, 2012 Naomi rated it really liked it
Although I found this book interesting, I did feel like it has been written multiple times before. I was taught these concepts in graduate school for my classes on leadership, so it truly was nothing new to me. However, it might be for the general public.

In reality, these books are a dime a dozen. I do think that they author, with his math background, brought in an interesting approach, but it is still the same concepts.
Apr 30, 2016 Bharat rated it it was amazing
Very nicely organized book that tries to drive home point of these:

1. Build up deep understanding of anything you are learning
2. Make mistakes and learn from them
3. Raise questions
4. Go forward and backwards in flow of ideas
5. Continually change and adapt; iterate over ideas.

This book also comes peppered with useful historical anecdotes and quotes and is very tiny, yet engrossing read. It is unfortunate that a lot of these approaches detailed in the book are not taught in the schools turning th
John Britto
Sep 30, 2015 John Britto rated it it was amazing
This is nice inspiring book which will help the anyone to make his vision come true in his life. Actually this is book mainly focuses on five things as the title itself conveys. The important things are (1) Understand deeply,(2) Make mistakes, (3) Raise questions, (4) Follow the flow of ideas and (5) Allow yourself to change. As the authors are the mathematic professors they correlate these five thing with Earth, Fire, Air, Water. That correlation and examples given to demonstrate that is really ...more
Sep 22, 2012 Mark rated it really liked it
I don't know if the points in this little book will help me to think any better, but it gave me several ideas to teach better.
Teo 2050
95min@2x – 125min@1.5x. This was a lovely, lively little book on better problem-solving and learning by two math professors with the anecdotes & strategies often related to their classes or students. The narration was good & suitable for speeding up, and despite much of the advice & quotes being commonly shared, I found this to be an excellent package and, most importantly, dense enough for another listen whenever stuck on a(ny) problem or needing help internalizing the algorithms fo ...more
Ray Campbell
Aug 10, 2014 Ray Campbell rated it liked it
Shelves: read-2014
This wasn't the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People - my yardstick for such self improvement books. Perhaps I'm somewhat jaded. Having been in the education business for more than twenty years, I've looked at dozens of these kinds of books. Many have offered good ideas in digestible packages from which I have taken buzz words and concepts I've used. The problem with this book for me was that as I read, I found myself thinking "oh, that..." which I already know and use.

I did like the way the auth
Feb 24, 2013 Kenny rated it really liked it
Potentially life changing, because it takes its own advice to get at the fundamental ability we all have to think as human beings. While much of it rings true on that core level, so much so, I feel so inspired to want to change, and feel capable of doing so - the authors say it right there, and there are many inspirational stories and quotes, which you will need to get the book to enjoy - as a budding writer and psychologist, I want to get more of the ways that these lessons or pieces of advice ...more
Serena Alibhai
Nov 17, 2012 Serena Alibhai rated it really liked it
Shelves: own
This book surprised me. I won this book from Good Reads and wasn't sure what it'd be like. I did think it sounded interesting though, which is why I entered the contest. I thought this book may be like others that I've read. But this was different and helpful. This book is simple, well written, and direct.

The authors used quotes to illustrate ways to think and live and succeed effectively. The way they wrote it is like one of my favourite other books by Jack Canfield where he also talks about h
Dec 29, 2013 Philip rated it it was amazing
What are the elements of effective thinking? First, one must think deeply on given topics, being willing to understand simple aspects well rather than expansive topics only simply. This is the idea of earth -- reaching down. Second, we ought to be willing to undergo failure and revisions to make our ideas better. This is the test of fire. Third, we need to reach for the air by asking questions. The better questions we ask, the better we’ll understand and think and write. Fourth, understanding wh ...more
Divya Selvaraj
Oct 27, 2015 Divya Selvaraj rated it it was amazing
The Five Elements of Effective Thinking, the way of connecting the five natural elements with the real time events is really cool. When we want to learn something new or when we are in a situation to handle the problem we should think deeply about it. Understand the basics deeply when you want to excel - Earth, Make mistakes and learn from it - Fire, Ask questions to learn more - Air, Flow of ideas - water. These elements helps not only to succeed from obstacles also improves habit of following ...more
Irene Clare
Feb 01, 2016 Irene Clare rated it really liked it
Shelves: self-help
This book is not a full of surprises but it can be read for betterment . Simple and Quick Reading with 5 effective elements which provokes deep understanding , dwelling in failure , asking stupid questions to productive ones , iterative ideas which triggers baby steps and the final quintessential element of change . I found the shadow concept quite interesting . This book will helps us to mold ourselves in success path .
Apr 18, 2015 Allison rated it it was amazing
This book was co-authored by my undergrad alma mater's President, Ed Buger. I thought it was insightful and gave great examples and exercises for each point made. As an admitted perfectionist, my most helpful "element" was fire - Failure leads can lead to success. There were also some wonderfully inspiring quotes. Kudos, President Burger - I'll cherish my autographed copy :)
Tales Untangled
Dec 31, 2012 Tales Untangled rated it really liked it
There are many self-help books that have been written to help us achieve success, however you may define success. The reason I found this book to be refreshing is because it is simple, uses common sense and sites specific patterns to follow.

The 5 habits are attached to elements to make them easy to remember through association with a symbol.

1 – Earth - Grounding your Thinking, Understand Deeply
2- Fire – Igniting Insights through Mistakes, Fail to Succeed
3 – Air – Creating Questions out of Thin A
Donald Plugge

This would be a good book for students. A nice guide by professional teachers on how best to learn. The authors break the ideas down into the symbolism of Earth, Fire, Air and Water. Earth refers to "Rock Solid Understanding" where the student figures out the big picture of what she is learning before driving into the details. Fire is Failure, failure is a good thing and teaches the student that progress is being made. Air represents Asking Questions (that analogy was a stretch, but it needed a
Michael Nazari
Feb 17, 2016 Michael Nazari rated it really liked it
Succinct and action provoking. I would recommend this book before learning anything new. It will save you hours. The book lays out how to approach a new subject or skill.

"You can understand anything better than you currently do. Setting a higher standard for yourself for what you mean by understanding, can revolutionize how you perceive the world."
Jan 06, 2015 Fredrik rated it did not like it
Shelves: fakta
Maken til mumbo-jumbo og bla-bla-bla skal du lete lenge etter. Bokens fem hovedpoenger er forsåvidt gode, men de neste 150 sidene er bare utbrodering av åpenbar common-sense. Man lærer like mye av å lese innholdsfortegnelsen, og slipper å kaste bort lyttetid.

Eneste grunnen til at jeg hørte gjennom alt for å få skrive dette.
Aug 01, 2016 Bram rated it did not like it
I was interested in this book because it is written by math professors. Unfortunately the content is not evidence based at all, just basic self-improvement advice, based on the authors' experiences, mixed with the ancient Greek elements.
Simon Chius
Jan 19, 2016 Simon Chius rated it really liked it
It is a good book, The author explains the 5 elements which makes our thinking efficient. They are
1. Deeply understand
2. Make mistake and learn by that
3. Ask more questions until it is clear
4. Follow the flow of ideas
5. Let yourself change

and the author associates these elements with the 5 elements of nature (Earth, Fire, Air, Water,.)
Dave B.
“The 5 elements of effective thinking” was a short 160+ pages. I was able to read the material in a day. The power of the text was in the fact that it was to the point and practical in nature. I have read several books related to critical thinking and Neuropsychology and this book provides a great summary of active thinking skills without an extra 500 pages of cognitive research history or case studies. I think linking key factors to critical thinking to classical concepts of natural elements wi ...more
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“Deep work on simple, basic ideas helps to build true virtuosity—not just in music but in everything.” 1 likes
“Fail nine times The next time you face a daunting challenge, think to yourself, “In order for me to resolve this issue, I will have to fail nine times, but on the tenth attempt, I will be successful.” This attitude frees you and allows you to think creatively without fear of failure, because you understand that learning from failure is a forward step toward success. Take a risk and when you fail, no longer think, “Oh, no, what a frustrating waste of time and effort,” but instead extract a new insight from that misstep and correctly think, “Great: one down, nine to go—I’m making forward progress!” And indeed you are. After your first failure, think, “Terrific, I’m 10% done!” Mistakes, loss, and failure are all flashing lights clearly pointing the way to deeper understanding and creative solutions.” 1 likes
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