THE GOAL BY ELIYAHU GOLDRATT

An informative business management book written with a nabokov-like finesse.

SYNOPSIS

  • A thrilling management book(weird to use those words together but that’s what it is) with an impeccable blend of production management tools and the story of an average man trying his best to keep his marriage from falling apart

THE THEORY OF CONSTRAINTS

The goal as a book is a very subtle introduction to the concept of ‘the theory of constraints’. It delineates the fact that any system will always have constraints. The trick to solving these constraints is to focus every resource towards getting rid of it. Only to have some other constraint pop up some place else

Challenging common practices is at the very heart of this book. Goldratt talks about productivity in a very novel manner

Anything that helps the organization achieve its goal is productive, anything that takes it away from its goal makes it unproductive.

Eliyahu Goldratt

The author than proceeds to give some fundamental key performance indicators (KPIs) regarding a business’s position in accordance to its ‘goal’; throughput, inventory and operational expense. Whats baffling is how such concepts of common sense seem unorthodox when viewed in a work environment where common practices of the contrary prevail.

A factory that operates 100% of the time is not an efficient factory!

Eliyahu Goldratt

The seamless blending of production tools and real world examples is awe-inspiring. I love how the concept of bottlenecks and non-bottlenecks is explained with the simple ‘fat Herbie’ analogy.

In the midst of all the chaos, every fourth or fifth chapter revolves back to the personal life of the protagonist; Alex Rogo. His struggle to keep his marriage from falling apart as well as keep his plant from closing is what kept me reading. This perfect balance between his personal life and professional struggles makes the book much more relatable to the audience.

After resolving all the issues with his bottlenecks, Alex learns at the end that constraints will always exist in a given system. Key is not only to identify and eliminate them but also predict where they might pop-up next!.

CONCLUSION

‘The goal’ is how a business management book should be. Core business concepts embedded in novel like stories filled with enough twists to keep you glued to the book through out the forty chapters.

I would rate this book a solid 5 out of 5 stars

MEDITATIONS BY MARCUS AURELIUS

A personal diary of a roman emperor turned into a self-help book

SYNOPSIS

  • Meditations is essentially a book which was never meant to be a book.
  • It comprises of personal writings of Marcus Aurelius, who wrote it as a means of reminder for himself. A reminder of all the things he is thankful for, all the prudence he ever learnt from his teachers and most importantly a reminder of his stoic ethics
  • Marcus’s version of stoicism mainly revolves around ethics, since he always distanced him self from logic and physics
  • Though Marcus wrote his diary as a means of reminder, ‘meditations’ still proves to be great self-book on life, since the central theme of the book is how to suffer less in life and thus, how to live a happy life!!

THE STOIC CREED

A part of philosophy has always dealt with the predicaments of life and how to best deal with them, whether its contemporary philosophy or medieval philosophy. No different it was for ancient Greek philosophers. A part of it meant figuring out life, the reason for human existence and its role, and most importantly, the key to happiness!. Stoicism addresses all these questions in a way which was considered novel at the time. But the most important question that stoicism answers is what is the key to happiness?. And this is essentially the definition of stoicism in the modern times; remaining steadfast among all the hardships of life

Earlier versions of stoicism were mainly based on three pillars; logic, physics and ethics. Logic was all about gaining insight on the nature of knowledge, physics was about understanding the physical world and ethics was about the role of human beings. Marcus’s version of stoicism was solely about ethics

Objective judgment, unselfish action and willing acceptance of all external events

Marcus Aurelius

This is the part where the personal diary of the roman emperor becomes a really good self-help book. Marcus talks about three things; objective judgment, unselfish action, willing acceptance of all external events, and deems them as the cornerstone of a stoic’s way of life.

HOW TO LIVE A HAPPIER LIFE?

This million dollar question, according to stoicism, can be answered by monitoring and taking control of three things

  • Perception
  • Action
  • Will

Perception is important. Nothing can harm us unless we believe that it does. I hate using cliche aphorisms, but it is true when they say ‘most of life is just a mental game’. People who have positive outlook on life tend to live happier lives and even achieve feats like defeating something as deadly as cancer

Action is all about the art of acquiescence. Its about accepting our role in the grand scheme of things. Stoicism identifies the hopelessness of our kind and thus preaches towards having an undying trust on the goodness of the Being that runs the entire place. Thus, even if something feels harmful in the moment, in the grand scheme of things, it will always be good for the entire system, since it happened naturally.

Will is about our reaction to what happens to us. So if someone harms us in any way, what do we do?. Do we take revenge?. But if we do so we degrade ourselves, since every person contains a part of the logos. Stoic creed talks about every human being containing a fragment of the logos, thus degrading a person means to degrade yourself.

CONCLUSION

Meditations is an inadvertent self-help book, full of prudent train of thought. The author, Marcus Aurelius obviously wrote down his thoughts as a simple reminder for himself. Yet his outtake on life is helpful for all, not just for those with a privileged background like him. His views revolve around being truthful, accepting life as it comes and paying little attention to material things like money and fame.

I would give this book a rating of 3/5 stars

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari

A novel take on history of human kind from an atheist misanthropic perspective.

SYNOPSIS

The book comprises of four main parts, each being regarded as a revolution. The first part tells about an insignificant animal that lived 2.5 million years ago. We the humans; homo sapiens popped up in Africa some 150,000 years ago. The earliest dominance that the sapiens gained over their siblings was through communication and cooperation. This was regarded as the cognitive revolution

The ability to grow stuff from the ground brought about the second revolution: Agricultural revolution. This severely changed the efforts humans made towards life and also had an impact on their health.

The third revolution was further integration of the human kind. Humans managed to cooperate and connect with each other through mediums like religion and nationality.

The fourth and final revolution was the scientific revolution. The unhinged drive for knowledge that made an insignificant animal, the most advanced specie ever to live on the planet.

A DEEPER LOOK ON THE BOOK AND SOME ARGUMENTS

THE ‘OBJECTIVE’ ARGUMENT

Almost everybody claims and wants to be as ‘objective’ as possible when it comes to answering questions regarding the human existence. Whether its the ones that follow a mainstream creed or the ones that unequivocally deny the existence of a supreme deity or the the diplomatic ignoramuses that fail to form an opinion or are too scared to challenge the believes and norms of the time. But i find it inevitable that regardless of which ever one of the formerly discussed, you are, your opinion will never be 100% objective. A brain at the state of Tabula rasa is one that can only be possessed by a baby. Thus we’re all influenced by some creed or even by the mentality of soi-disant lack of creed or disapproval for creed or in popular terms; atheism. And since we are always influenced, we will look for what we want to look and we will believe in what we want to believe. Coming back to the book, the author in the beginning portion of the book, expresses his discontent for monogamous marriages. It seems to me that this assumption comes from his apathy for religions that mostly promote the concept of monogamous marriages. Further the author, at various points very conveniently uses certain scientific studies to validate his points but also very conveniently leaves out the ones that come into direct contradiction of his points. We all remember the famous Margret Mead, author of the ‘Samoan hoax’, the reason for bringing her up is to throw some light on the ‘not so old’ fact that us humans are the best rationalizers of our own transgressions. Using ‘scientific study’ to justify our dogma (or in this case, lack of dogma) is not new. The bottom line is ‘no one is 100% objective’

THE ‘BIOLOGY ENABLES’ ARGUMENT

The second most prominent argument in the book is the ever popular atheist argument, ‘biology enables’. According to this argument, one should consider biology when thinking about decisions pertaining to morality or what is considered natural and unnatural. Although i am a big fan of separating cultural norms from our decision making process, the biology enables argument when applied effectively, very easily justifies incest, as long as mutual consent and protection during coitus is employed. But i say, why stop here?. I am sure we’ll somehow find a way around the ‘consent’ argument and eventually justify bestiality and pedophilia as well.

THE ARGUMENT FOR MATRIARCHY

The thought of a superior society with a Utopian sound to it is not an old concept. We often contemplate about the inequalities of our society and go on to present what we consider to be the Utopia (or at least a better version of the society). But even these fantasies are built on our subjective view and sometimes even personal transgressions, as in the case of Margret Mead talking about a sexually liberated Samoan society. Similarly, the author, very predicatively, also takes jabs at the all evil patriarchy. I suppose this opinion is also formed with thanks to his apathy for mainstream creeds, since most mainstream religions are built around patriarchy. While i find his take on matriarchy rather interesting, especially the point about how elephants operate in a matriarchal society. But the author, again, very conveniently discusses the mammal groups with matriarchy in a positive light but forgets to mention his favorite bonobos (with matriarchal society), who are just as violent as the chimpanzees (with patriarchal society). As far as humans are concerned, European Queens were 27% more likely to rage wars, but since that study was done after the book was written, i suppose we should cut the author some slack.

CONCLUDING REMARKS AND MY RATING

You might be thinking that i view the book negatively, i don’t. I actually like the book for the reason that its a conversation starter and introduces a lot novel takes on questions pertaining to our history. But having said that, the book severely lacks proofs. How are mere assumptions regarding the supposed genocide of neanderthals any more believable than the mainstream religions. There will never be cold hard evidence as far as our journey from a bacteria is concerned, just like we will never know the GPS location of heaven and hell. There will however be assumptions which will always correlate with our personal belief system.

As for the rating, i would give this book a solid 3.5 stars out 5!

Better Late Than Never!!

Thanks for joining me!

Courage is all it took (also unemployment). — My self

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So after years of procrastination, here i am. I am an engineer by profession and a writer by passion, who would like to define him self as, a stereotypical guy from Pakistan, who has lived his life with a blindfold on his eyes, floating around where ever the waves might take him. The norms of the culture allowed me to become an engineer but my interests or things i think of as my passion have always remained capricious over the 23 years i have spent on this planet.

Boy oh boy, judging from the paragraph above, i sound like the epitome of someone with a borderline personality disorder. I am not (very convincingly), But this is the first time i am actually taking a step towards what i believe to be my ‘in-born’ talent. There’s a long road ahead and i have a lot to learn. As of right now, i am going through rough patch in life but like time, that will pass. I don’t expect to make money from this but i definitely want to hone my skills, as far as writing is concerned. I want to write at least one best seller book before i die. And this right here is my first step towards that goal.

I hope to make a lot of friends here, i hope to meet people that will help me open up to a lot of things i might be benighted of and most importantly i hope to express my self here in the most exuberant way possible.

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