Think, Love, Succeed | Book Review

Having heard good things about Dr. Caroline Leaf, I was prepared to be impressed by her new book, Think, Learn, Succeed. I was not, unfortunately. The book was like a stew gone bad, filled with ingredients that are tasty by themselves but not in combination with others.

Here are the book’s ingredients I found tasty. First, the book is about “mental self-care,” about “a lifestyle of cognitive transformation that is both sustainable and organic.” As a middle-aged man, I certainly want my cognitive functions to remain sharp. Second, the book emphasizes changing one’s mindsets from negative to positive, developing an optimistic, “wired-for-love bias.” Such a mindset is eminently desirable. Third, the book teaches that each of is uniquely “gifted” in how we process information. The 70-question “Gift Profile” helped me identify the way I uniquely think about information; my profile made sense to me. Fourth, the book teaches a five-step learning method that builds memory meaningfully—again, an appealing topic.

And yet, for me personally, the combination of these tasty ingredients wasn’t tasty too. It started with the fact that the five-step learning method is too formulaic. I’ve completed one graduate degree and am working on another, and I’ve never used Dr. Leaf’s recommended “Metacom” technique—basically, mind-mapping—to learn my subjects. I can see its usefulness, of course, but I’ve done well in school without it. Plus, using Metacogs seems to sit uneasily with the notion that our Gift Profile demonstrates our unique way of thinking. How can our thinking unique if there’s only one way of learning?

A second problem: I’m an editor. This book needed better editing. There are 16 chapters devoted to 15 mindsets in Section One. Three chapters devoted to Seven Modules make up your unique Gift Profile in Section Two. And Section Three outlines a five-step process for learning. That’s 27 major points, not counting all the subpoints Dr. Leaf makes under these points. And it’s not clear to me how the sections on mindsets, customized thinking, and learning process hang together. At times, I felt like I was reading three books crammed uncomfortably between two covers.

Finally, the scientific research that underlies Dr. Leaf’s conclusions was alternately fascinating and frustrating. Fascinating because of the intrinsic appeal to me of subjects like the mind-brain problem, neuroplasticity, the biological substratum of memory, and the like. Frustrating because as a nonspecialist reader, the scientific details got a bit overwhelming. Plus, it wasn’t always clear that I needed a scientific basis for a particular conclusion, which to be honest, seemed like common sense.

So, just two stars on this one for me. I wanted to like it, but I had to force myself to finish it. Kind of like what you have to do when eating a bad stew…

Book Reviewed
Dr. Caroline Leaf, Think, Learn, Succeed: Understanding and Using Your Mind to Thrive at School, the Workplace, and Life(Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2018).

P.S. If my review helped you form an impression of this book,please vote “Helpful” on my Amazon review page.


The World Wide (Religious) Web for Wednesday, June 15, 2011

This summer, the General Council of the Assemblies of God will vote on a proposal to consolidate the three nationally owned schools in Springfield, Missouri: AG Theological Seminary, Central Bible College, and Evangel University. Dr. George O. Wood, who serves as AG general superintendent (and is my dad) outlines the proposal in the video below:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Consolidation Proposal for Springfield Resident…, posted with vodpod

More information on the proposed consolidation is available here.


In “Anthony Weiner and the National Adultery Ritual,” Kay Hymowitz writes: “Far from a vestige of American prudery, then, the National Adultery Ritual is best understood as a modern protest in behalf of women against the persistence of male infidelity in an age of equality.” Read the whole thing.


“Nigeria’s violence political, not religious, says Muslim leader.” If you’re on the wrong end of the stick, does it matter what the stick-wielder’s motivation is?


Make sure to read Scott Yenor on “The Family’s End” and “The Family: What Is To Be Done?” in which he battles against the notion that marriage is merely a contract between two individuals.

Marriage has contractual moments, but it ultimately, as Hegel writes, supersedes the point of view of contract as the individuals lose their identity by becoming members of the family. A healthy culture recognizes this and laws create a fertile space for such mutual self-giving. It is difficult to see how a healthy marriage culture can exist until we recover the language of self-giving to reflect its continuing reality in our lives. The language of contract is not sufficient to that experience.


“Demonize the opposition, chapter 666”: about how the media portrays opponents of same-sex marriage, of course.


“Can Government Get Out of the Marriage Business?” Contra Ron Paul, evidently not.


“I Am Second.” Inspiring videos from people who have decided to live for God and others rather than for themselves.


“The Perennial Brain-Mind Gap.” In which Raymond Tallis argues that “neuroscience cannot–not just has not yet, but cannot–explain consciousness itself.”


“Jesus for Jews”: on the resurgence of Jewish interest in Jesus.


“Too Late for Apologies: Three Steps the U.S. Bishops Should Take to Prevent Another Sexual Abuse Scandal.” Good advice!


Don Carson, Tim Keller, and John Piper on pastoral succession plans.