Review of Clearer, Closer, Better: How Successful People See The World

The methods that drive individuals to prosper in their careers or to meet challenging performance goals have been the fodder of numerous motivational bestsellers. In this ambitious new book, Emily Balcetis examines what she feels are the key elements that inform these strategies and how they specifically relate to ideas of perception. “In this book,” she writes, “I offer four strategies intended to quite literally reshape the way we see the world….Each of these strategies serves a different function. Knowing about each, we can better prepare ourselves for the multitude of difficulties that we stand to experience as we tackle life’s biggest challenges.” The strategies include narrowing your focus (concentrating your attention allows you to tune in more effectively to the immediate task at hand); widening the bracket (big-picture planning that allows for an organic change of course if needed); materializing (organized planning through checklists and progress summaries); and framing (enhancing your ability to gather objective feedback and learning how to read the emotions of others). In each chapter, Balcetis relays a series of brief profiles, ranging across multiple disciplines, that serve as examples of how these strategies can be manifested from different angles.

She says we can think of these strategies as four different tools in a toolbox we select from when working on a self-improvement project. “Consider them your hammer, screwdriver, wrench, and pliers—pretty basic implements, but useful for almost every job. Sometimes the goals we set require us to use multiple strategies, just as any home repair may require more than one tool. Sometimes what we’ve set our sights on can be accomplished with one plan but not another, so having options for how to get the job done can be beneficial—just as a fully stocked toolbox offers us the possibility of trading in a screwdriver for a wrench when the first choice isn’t right.”

She adds that the four strategies share one feature: they are all about harnessing the power of the eyes. Challenging ourselves to quite literally look differently can help us better our odds of succeeding at things that don’t seem related to vision at all.

Drawing on her unique research and cutting-edge discoveries in vision science, cognitive research, and motivational psychology, Balcetis gives readers an unprecedented account of the perceptual habits, routines, and practices that successful people use to set and meet their ambitions.

A mind-blowing and original tour of perception, Clearer, Closer, Better will help you see the possibilities in what you can’t see now. Inspiring, motivating, and always entertaining, it demonstrates that if we take advantage of our visual experiences, they can lead us to live happier, healthier, and more productive lives every day.

She says in the introduction that though we may not see the world the way it actually is, we can use that to our advantage.

“We think we see the world the way it actually is. We think that when we look at ourselves in the mirror, we see our face the same way others do. We believe that when we peer down the street in front of us, we know what we’ll pass by on our journey. We are certain that when we scan the food on our plate, we see what it is we’ll be eating. But none of this is always true. Instead, our visual experiences are often misrepresentations. We form an imperfect impression and our eager mind fills in the gaps, putting in place the missing pieces. […] And, interestingly, this can happen without our awareness, both in everyday circumstances and when we’re making some of the most important decisions of our lives.”

“Based on the research I and my colleagues have conducted, I believe that we can take advantage of the fact that we do not see the world perfectly, accurately, or completely—as long as we know when and why it happens. By learning more about how our eyes work in conjunction with our brain, we can direct our perceptual experiences to help us see the world in ways that will help us overcome some of the biggest challenges we face when working toward our most important goals.

In this book, she explains how knowing when to narrow our focus of attention helps us to exercise more effectively, save more for retirement sooner, and find more time in our day to do what we really want to. Understanding how to materialize a goal, our steps, or our efforts improves the way we track our progress. Becoming aware of the power of framing can improve our ability to read others’ emotions, negotiate better deals, improve the relationships we have with other people, and overcome a fear of public speaking. And a wide bracket reduces the allure of temptations, the appeal of multitasking, and the inclination to push on when changing course might be best.

Clearer, Closer, Better is a must read for those who desire improvement in their lives.



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