Book Review: Insight

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I’m 75, and I’ve been working on my self-awareness and self-improvement for most of my adult life. I’ve read a lot of books. Even with that experience, I learned a lot from Insight: The Surprising Truth About How Others See Us, How We See Ourselves, And Why the Answers Matter More Than We Think by Tasha Eurich

Early in the book, Tasha Eurich tells us why she wrote it:

“I wrote Insight for anyone who wants to make the leap from self-blindness to self-insight, and in turn, reap the rewards of smarter choices, stronger relationships, and a better life.”

Slightly further on she shares her hope for the book:

“I’m hoping that this book will be a powerful wakeup call to three simple facts: that self-awareness is the exquisite foundation to a life well-lived, that it is possible to make the journey, and that the courage and effort it takes to get there are well worth it.”

Amen. Here’s what you’ll find in the book

Insight is divided into three parts. In the first part of the book, Tasha Eurich covers the building blocks of self-awareness and roadblocks to self-awareness. She introduces us to her Seven Pillars of Insight. She’ll return to this idea throughout the book. The pillars give you an idea of what it means to be self-aware. Next, she discusses the various roadblocks to self-awareness. She wraps up part one by talking about something many other authors have covered. She calls it “The Cult of Self.”

Part two is about internal self-awareness. Dr. Eurich deals with myths around how to develop internal self-awareness. One is the idea that introspection leads to insight. She shows you why it may not. There’s more like that. She ends part two by describing practical approaches you can use to increase internal self-awareness.

Having dealt with internal self-awareness, Dr. Eurich turns to external self-awareness in part three. The key insight there is that we’re not good at developing external self-awareness on our own. There’s an excellent discussion here of the “Mum Effect.” It’s a key reason why it’s so hard to get candid, objective data on how we’re doing. She shows how to break through the barriers. The section concludes with an excellent discussion of how to hear feedback.

Part four is about self-awareness in a team context. The biggest insight for me was that trying to force team candor can be a major mistake. Dr. Eurich lays out the building blocks you must put in place first. Part four finishes with a process she’s used for years to help teams exchange feedback in a safe, direct, and productive way.

The content of this book is excellent but there are issues with the production. When I decide to review a book, I buy both the audiobook and the Kindle version. Listening to the audiobook slows me down and lets me deal with the material in a more-thoughtful way. I make note of things I want to highlight in the Kindle version. Normally, that’s not a problem. But the audio version from Audible and the Kindle version are not exactly the same. Some major parts are moved around, and some words and descriptions are in one version but not the other.

If you’re reading either one or the other, that’s no problem. But if you, like me, use both the audio version and the Kindle version, this may frustrate you.

There are other devices that will help you. Tasha Eurich boldfaces key ideas and concepts so you can both scan through a chapter and get clues about what you may want to highlight.

There are summaries of key points at the end of every chapter. That’s a feature that I really like because I can go back and make flash cards of the end-of-chapter highlights, and thereby, have a quick way to review the book.

In A Nutshell

After working on self-improvement and insight for more than 50 years, Insight: The Surprising Truth About How Others See Us, How We See Ourselves, And Why the Answers Matter More Than We Think by Tasha Eurich is the best, most helpful book I’ve found. I’ll be combing back through it to work on specific items. If you’re looking for a book that will help you understand yourself and the way others see you, put this book at the top of your to-read list. Then, follow through and read it and apply what you learn.

You can check out some of my highlights and notes from this book on GoodReads.


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