Book Review by Kristen Cudd
Rocket scientists see the world through a different lens that allows them to push the boundaries of human achievement and experience. What would happen if we could all harness this extraordinary power? Author and actual rocket scientist Ozan Voral believes that any person in any line of work from any walk of life can do just that. Thinking like a rocket scientist can transform lives, allowing people to attain what was once unimaginable. His book shows readers exactly how to begin using this type of thinking at home and work.
Our fear of the unknown is hardwired into us. We search for “order in chaos, the right answer in ambiguity, and conviction in complexity.” Even when the stakes are not critically high, we are obsessed with making sense of our surroundings and minimizing the unknowns. This has left us unable to cope and interact with the unknown. But only when we dare to enter murky waters do breakthroughs happen. He says, “our ability to make the most out of uncertainty is what creates the most potential value. We should be fueled not by a desire for a quick catharsis but by intrigue. Where certainty ends, progress begins.”
There is an idea called “path dependence” that states “what we’ve done before shapes what we do next.” This line of thinking is our default and it has an incredibly powerful hold over us. In order to see real progress in life or in business, we must break the constraints of the process that has been performed in the past. Instead, we need to use first-principles thinking. First-principles thinking allows a person to see something that is out of sight to everyone else. This, Varol says, is the way to liberate yourself, let your mind innovate, and move forward radically.
Varol believes that finding the right question to ask is far more important than finding a solution. We instinctively want answers and once we arrive at one, we find it nearly impossible to go back and consider that we may have been wrong. Our certainty that we have found the right answer prevents us from seeing alternatives. In fact, we may have even been pursuing an answer to the wrong problem entirely.
We need to reframe questions with a focus on why, not what. Our questions should focus on strategy, or “a plan for achieving an objective” rather than tactics, or “the actions you take to implement the strategy.” If we lose sight of the strategy, we end up chasing the tactic, asking the wrong questions and becoming fixated on answers. Put another way, we should reframe our questions to focus on form over function. Ultimately, the goal is to engage in “problem finding” instead of “problem solving.” Varol says, “breakthroughs don’t begin with a smart answer. They begin with a smart question.”
In Think Like a Rocket Scientist, readers are presented with nine approachable and actionable strategies to start implementing rocket-science thinking in their personal and professional lives. Varol’s book is brimming with real world examples from space exploration, sports, education, celebrity, and more that highlight rocket-scientist thinking in action, including timely anecdotes about Elon Musk and SpaceX, who just launched the first ever private rocket carrying astronauts to the international space station. Thought-provoking quotes and poems are included at the start of each chapter to set the tone and prepare the reader’s mind for the type of engagement to follow. Now more than ever, people are faced with unforeseen challenges. Readers can arm themselves with a new way of thinking that will help them adapt and overcome anything that comes their way.
With Think Like a Rocket Scientist, anyone can leverage “out of this world” thinking to make giant leaps forward at home or work.
Kristen Cudd is a Contributing Writer at Soundview. She spent seven years in publishing working with business book authors. She loves sharing her viewpoint as a contributing writer for various publications across multiple niches. Her other reviews can be found here.
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