The one-sentence summary

We need to unlearn and learn constantly to keep adapting to an ever-changing world.


  • To survive our current crazy world we need a new kind of mindware – ways to develop our adaptive intelligence. 150 years after Charles Darwin invented the concept of natural selection, the rules of evolution are changing, with the speed of change accelerating faster than ever.
  • Mindware consists of personal habits of mind and patterns of social interaction
  • We all need to become better at dealing with crazy amounts of information. Too much choice makes us unhappy. Learners inherit the earth, while the learned are beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.
  • We need to explore the unlearning curve: how quickly can we unlearn?
  • Visible thinking encourages a tangible response to new stimuli: what’s going on here and what do I see that makes me say so?
  • Unfreeze/move/refreeze summarises the change process. It’s not the changes that do you in, it’s the transitions.
  • How we see the world depends on:

Permanence: pessimists think it’s fixed, optimists move on

Personalisation: pessimists blame themselves, optimists get round things

Pervasiveness: pessimists let setbacks spread, optimists see isolated incidents


  • There are nine rules to work with:

1. Change is changing: it is no longer gradual. We need to cultivate habits of mind associated with imagining, noticing, choosing, synthesising and unlearning.

2. Real change is internal: instead of looking at the outside world, we should look to letting go, noticing and naming emotions, and the development of resilience.

3. Slow down: being, deferring, surfacing and reflecting are helpful qualities here.

4. We can all change the way we see the world: personality and events are not fixed and inevitable.

5. We can learn how to change more effectively: adaptive intelligence holds the key.

6. No one can make you change: we don’t have to follow the herd.

7. Sometimes it’s smart to resist: not all change is helpful

8. Use the brainpower of those around you: sociability and working together

9. Make up your own rules: find your own style and go with it.

  • The PDSA Cycle is crucial: plan, do, study, act (with study being crucial)
  • Classifying issues as plus, minus, interesting helps solve tricky ones


It is a great synthesis for coping with life but you may seen a lot of the ideas elsewhere.