The Weekend Read – Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

I read this book after reading John Seymour’s review. John is an NLP trainer with his feet firmly on the ground who taught my wife during her NLP Practitioner Training, I have been fortunate to spend some time in his company and value his knowledge, experience and wisdom. Instead of reinventing the wheel I though I would share John’s review – it’s spot on.

You can buy the book through Amazon here.

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“I’m reading Daniel Kahneman’s ‘Thinking, Fast and Slow’. The man is a Nobel Prize winner and the book has had accolades showered on it. More importantly, I heard him speak on the radio and was well impressed – this doesn’t happen often. It’s been on my list to get since it first came out, a couple of years ago. I bought it on a flying visit to Waterstones back in the summer. It has sat on the current book pile until last week, when I dipped in. It is very good, with much practical wisdom. I suspect some of his gems will show up in this year’s courses.

The central idea of this book is that our minds have evolved to have two different modes of functioning. This theory has been around a while in psychology, but Kahneman brings it alive by pulling together key bits of research that have practically useful applications.

The two modes of operation are:

System 1 – fast thinking – in plain English you can call this the intuitive mind
System 2 – slow thinking – in plain English, this is the rational mind

System 1, fast thinking, operates automatically and quickly, with little or no effort, or sense of voluntary control.

Typical System 1 activities might include:

  • Noticing that one object is more distant than another
  • Driving a car on an empty road
  • Noticing hostility in someone’s voice tones
  • Understanding a simple sentence
  • Having an immediate opinion about something you know little about

All these mental activities we perform quickly and automatically, with little or no conscious effort. There is a significant amount of unconscious activity going on which makes use of many learned associations (e.g. what is the capital of France?) and skills (you are reading this automatically).

In contrast, System 2, slow thinking, allocates attention to the effortful mental activities that demand it, including complex calculations. The operations of System 2 are often associated with the subjective experience of concentration, agency and choice. They are disrupted if attention is distracted.

Typical System 2 activities might include:

  • Focusing on the voice of one person in a noisy and crowded room
  • Walking much faster than your normal speed
  • Monitoring the appropriateness of your behaviour in a social setting
  • Counting the number of times the letter ‘a’ occurs in this paragraph
  • Checking the validity of a complex logical argument.

These mental activities take time to do, they need our conscious attention and they require mental effort. There is a significant amount of conscious activity going on.

That is the brief summary of these two different modes of thinking, the intuitive mind and the rational mind. I’ll stick to these names from now on – it makes for easier reading.

When we think of ourselves we identify with our rational mind, the conscious reasoning self, that has beliefs, makes choices, and decides what to think about and do. Although we think our rational mind is where the action is, in many ways, the automatic intuitive mind is the hero of the piece and actually doing much more of the action.

It is the intuitive mind that effortlessly surfaces from the unconscious the impressions and feelings that are the grist to the mill of the conscious mind. The unconsciously competent operations of the intuitive mind generate surprisingly complex and appropriate patterns of ideas. However, only the slower conscious operations of the rational mind can construct thoughts in an orderly series of steps.

How do these two modes work together?

Both of them are active when you are awake. Your intuitive mind runs automatically and your rational mind is usually in low effort mode. Your intuitive mind feeds impressions, thoughts, intuitions, feelings, impulses and intentions to your rational mind. If it adopts these, then impressions, thoughts and intuitions turn into beliefs, while impulses and intentions turn into actions.

Most of the time, your rational mind goes along with your intuitive mind. When all is going smoothly, which is usually the case, you generally believe your impressions and act on your impulses. When your intuitive mind runs into difficulties, it calls on your rational mind to do some detailed specific thinking about the problem. For example if you hear a sudden unexpected noise, or try to divide your income by the number of hours you work, you will typically experience a surge of conscious attention and effort. This affects your body. Your muscles tend to tense, your heart rate and blood pressure increase, and your pupils visibly dilate. You could say that your rational mind and your body are activated and put on alert when your intuitive mind’s model of the world is violated.

In summary, most of what you think and do originates in your intuitive mind. However your rational mind takes over when things get difficult, and it normally has the last word. Normally this is a highly efficient division of labour. Each of your mind modes has different strengths, weaknesses, and functions. However they do not always work well together.

See if you can spot when your two minds do not work so well from the following examples:

  • Do you tend to identify more with one of these mind modes more than the other? And does this make you inclined to not switch to the other mode when it is more appropriate? How do you know when it is time to switch modes?
  • Intuitions work well when you have good skill base in the field involved, but not when you don’t. I would trust my intuitions in NLP training, but not in golf (I don’t play golf). When can you rely on your intuitions, and when can’t you? Do you sometimes get this wrong?
  • The intuitive mind has little understanding of logic, statistics and complex systems. Do you rely on it when these are involved? For example, with finances and investments? Be careful…
  • The rational mind can be very slow. If fast decisions are called for, you may keep missing the opportunities.
  • The rational mind can stay stuck in its thinking processes and nothing happens – analysis paralysis.
  • The rational mind often monitors the impulses of the intuitive mind in social situations. Failure to do so can be embarrassing, or damage relationships, whilst over-monitoring can become undue people pleasing. How do you fare on this one?

As your rational mind becomes more aware of how your two minds work together over the days ahead, notice any adjustments you want to make and simply imagine them happening, and practice these adjustments. The more you do this, the more your intuitive mind will take note and this will tend to bring about the adjustments.

May your minds become more harmonious.”

Practice Management Conference 2014 – a great offer for you.

Practice Plan are well known for providing quality meetings and conferences and this year’s Practice Management Conference is no exception.

Featuring 4 accomplished speakers Sheila, Scott, Krishan Joshi, Nigel Jones and Kevin Lewis this is a day that should not be missed.

Whether you attend in Bolton on June 6th or Reading on June 27th your time will be well spent.

Practice Plan have offered my network contacts a discount on the ticket for day so your investment will be just £100 for Practice Plan members and £120 for non-members – so book now and tell them I sent you.

Here’s the full information:

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Our expert speakers will be covering a range of topics from people management to online marketing. Learn from the best on how to take control of your business and lead with confidence, whilst ensuring your business is protected from litigation.

Here’s what your practice management team will take away from the day:

  • A clearer understanding of how to take control of your business
  • Business measurement skills and an understanding of how these can be used to make decisions with confidence
  • A blueprint for creating an emotional website, that will convert enquiries into bookings
  • An understanding of Google and how to improve your ratings
  • A new communications framework for management
  • An understanding of how to avoid conflict in everyday situations
  • The ability to confidently ask others to change and improve their behaviour for the better
  • A deeper knowledge of how to protect your business in a changing industry.

More about the speakers:

Sheila Scott
Winning friends and influencing people – how to change someone’s behaviour
As a fully fledged psychologist, Sheila Scott knows how to get into your head. A leading industry consultant, Sheila has helped 1000s of practices succeed.

Sheila will explain how to use a powerful and useful framework for giving constructive motivational feedback to team members and how to approach asking for change. Learn how you can manage people more effectively and create a motivated team.

Krishan Joshi
A blueprint for creating emotional websites
Krishan Joshi is the master of dental web design. He founded Dental Focus to create websites and provide online marketing support that will truly empower practices. He is also the co-founder of the Mouth Cancer Foundation.

Krishan’s presentation will see him introduce several new strategies to boost your dental practice’s online presence. Be prepared for an action-packed, interactive lecture with new perspectives on theming your dental website to convert more of your website visitors into phone calls, email enquiries and live online bookings.

Nigel Jones
Measure for measure. A guide to achieving business success through improved decision making
As Practice Plan’s Sales Director, Nigel Jones is at the cutting edge of the industry and will help you take control of your business with confidence. Knowledge is the key.

The ability to measure the success of your business is becoming increasingly important and is an integral part of the decision-making process. Nigel will explain the merits of business measurement and how it can help to put you in control. Discover how to engage the whole team and make a measurement culture a way of life.

Kevin Lewis
Ensuring your business is protected: safeguarding you and your practice from litigation
Industry heavyweight Kevin Lewis is the Dental Director of Dental Protection and knows everything there is to know about protecting you and your practice from legal action.

Kevin will be drawing on years of dento-legal knowledge to give you a clearer understanding of how you can protect your business in an ever-changing industry.

Bolton – Bolton Whites Hotel – 6th June 2014 – Book here

Reading – Crown Plaza Hotel – 27th June 2014 – Book here

Carlyle Tests Appetite For £1bn Dental Chain

£1 billion = £1 million x 1000. Divide that by 570 and the average practice would be worth £1.754 million. Now I realise that there is no such thing as the average practice but that seems a lot of money to me.  Could the anticipated change in dental contract influence this move? Interesting times indeed.

Carlyle Tests Appetite For £1bn Dental Chain

From Sky News

Britain’s biggest privately-owned dental chain is heading for a sale or stock market flotation that could value it at a mouth-watering £1bn.

Sky News has learnt that the owner of Integrated Dental Holdings (IDH) has asked investment banks to pitch for a role advising it on a deal later this year.

IDH, which has a network of 570 dental practices in England, Scotland and Wales, is majority-owned by The Carlyle Group, one of the world’s biggest private equity investors.

IDH calls itself the biggest dental corporate organisation in Europe, focusing primarily on NHS patients but with private and specialist practices as an increasingly important revenue stream.

According to bondholder filings for the final three months of 2013, earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation for the financial year to date rose by 21% to £48.7m.

The company was founded in 1996 by Luke Johnson, the entrepreneur who previously owned Pizza Express and who is floating Patisserie Valerie on the London Stock Exchange.

Mr Johnson and his partners sold IDH in 2006 for just over £100m, with the private equity arm of Merrill Lynch among its subsequent owners.

The company was created in its current form from the amalgamation of IDH and Associated Dental Practices in 2011, and now treats millions of patients each year.

IDH’s biggest rival, Oasis Dental Care, is also owned by private equity funds having been bought by Bridgepoint last year in a deal worth £185m.

Carlyle is examining exits for a number of its investments, including the RAC breakdown recovery service, as Sky News reported earlier this month.

The buyout firm declined to comment.

The Monday Morning Quote #265

“Coming together is a beginning,

staying together is progress,

working together is success.”

Henry Ford

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Thanks to Ian Smith at Visage Dental Laboratory for reminding me of this.

Another offering for your Facial Aesthetic clients?

This will be of particular interest for those dentists who provide facial aesthetic treatments; although my purely anecdotal opinion is that there are far more trained to carry out the procedures than can find willing participants. I think it’s really more of a marketing problem than anything else, “something to do with the D in BDS” as one of my clients said.

From this weekend’s FT, in the ‘how to spend it’ magazine, is an article by the previously anonymous ‘Spa Junkie’. She has retained her anonymity until now as she is not a professional journalist receiving free treatments, but rather a private client who paid her own way. It turns out that her name is Inge Theron and she has launched her own concept – The FaceGym.

Not be confused with Face Gym of course.

I was taken with one of her statements “we are living longer and I’m not sure that injectables are the best way to preserve our looks.” She goes on to list some complications that she has suffered with injectables, which can only reinforce the prejudices of sceptics.

This is where my interest was raised on behalf of the dental community. Here are a few extracts from the treatment, the full article is available here.

Inge says, “when you go the gym, a unique set of interval-training exercises can make your muscles lengthen and your body change. I am applying that same logic to the face, creating a micro-contouring, muscle-stimulating cardio, strength and interval-training routine.”

The stages of what is described as a ‘workout rather than a facial’ start with a 5 minute ‘Warm up’ where there are ‘knuckle twists’ around the eyes, cheeks and jawline to get the blood flowing.

Next comes the ‘Cardio’ section working on the muscles of facial expression (my interpretation.

The third step works on strength, is based upon the principles of high-intensity interval training and sounds like like a cross between massage and osteopathic therapy.

It’s the next part of the session, described as ‘mouth work’, that may raise eyebrows in the dental community, although for the client that may be part of the benefits.

I quote verbatim:

“My therapist puts on gloves and places the fingers of one hand inside my mouth. She puts her thumb on the roof of my mouth, and the palm of her other hand on the top of my head, to feel my stress points. She presses hard to relieve tension and widen the palate. The sensation is both stretching and decompressing. Her movements are slow and controlled. She turns my head to the side and repeats the action with her forefinger, working to lift my masseter and zygomatic muscles away from the bone at the back of my jaw – first on one side of my mouth, then the other. She explains that the technique relaxes the “fascia”, the tissues that surround the muscles and can become stuck together. Apparently, my masseter muscles are tight and my temporal muscles really stuck. As she moves them away from the bone, it is mildly painful (I whimper a few times), but I can feel the separation. When she takes her fingers out of my mouth, my jaw movements are less tight and more fluid and I can sense the extra space created.”

Finally the session concludes with a ‘Cool down’.

Make your own mind up, at present this is limited to a few salons but if you offer facial aesthetes than you really should be aware, be prepared to field questions from your clients and perhaps be ready to offer the treatment.

Me, I’ll stick to running in the soft rain and wind of West Cork.

The Monday Morning Quote #264

“All things are ready if our minds be so.”

Henry V

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