What If One Book Could Change The World?
Every author hopes that their book will make a difference. Writing, after all, is a journey that’s best described as painting graffiti using what’s inside your veins. It’s that hard to get right. And even then, that’s barely enough.
A book that will change the world? What form would it take? What could it contain? How could such a transformation even start? Would the implied hyperbole even work for it?
In truth every book is transformative. The moment we read it things change subtly inside us. Our brains visualize the information. Complex neurochemical changes occur and internally we are subtly changed. Some of the wetware that runs us, the complex network of axons and neurons and synapses that we collectively call the collectome
is restructured. From the moment we have read the book onwards our brain will work differently in small but important ways.
It will dredge up bits and pieces of information it has gleamed, unbidden, and in connection with things we have yet to encounter and which we will have to make critical decisions about. It will open up new collaborative pathways between centers of the brain that may not have been too closely linked up to that moment, expanding the mental horizon we look at and altering our sense of aspiration as we use that mental horizon to filter the present in expectation of the future.
Our perception will change. We may feel more knowledgeable, skillful, clever and empowered. We may suddenly sense that some unseen and unfelt perceptual limitation has been lifted. Some of the things we already know and some of the thoughts we already have had may suddenly make more sense. This will rewire some or all of our neural centers
enabling our brains to literally work differently. While we cannot see the change, we can feel it. It makes us feel suddenly alive. Engaged with the present and the world in ways we weren’t before.
A good book recreates us, and with us it recreates the world around us, layering fresh insights and new ways of looking at everything. Nothing then remains quite the same.
The Network Effect
But truly it needs way more than that. Clay tablets, papyrus reed scrolls, leather bound codices and books have been quietly transforming minds and shaping thinking by sharing thoughts and information for a long time. It’s neither the information they contain nor the thoughts they present that make the world change.
For that we need something else. Something way bigger. Something deeper.
What we really need is a support framework. A system where thoughts become the currency that makes the system run, ensuring a seamless, frictionless sharing environment. In short we need two distinct things: Each other and good connectivity.
In a social media environment where we help make each other smarter
a book becomes something more than a stepping stone to fresh thinking. It becomes fuel. It feeds a fire of idea-sharing and theorizing that takes the end points of the book and makes them starting points for something bigger.
When I wrote The Sniper Mind
the premise was simple enough: find ways to optimize the brain.
But, as is usually the case, it grew to something bigger than that. If we can optimize the way the brain works through specific exercises and techniques, we then change the way it operates. In short, we rewire it
. In rewiring the brain we enter the terrain of unintended consequences
. Trained brains are responsible for their own architecture and then, for the decisions they take and the consequences of those decisions. Awareness brings responsibility. Responsibility brings pressure. Pressure creates discomfort.
How we deal with personal discomfort (and why we would be willing to voluntarily subject ourselves to it) affects everything we do.
The world, for all its complexity, is made up of people. Individuals just like you and me doing things just like what we do which have an effect on other individuals in our orbit. That is the fundamental building block of everything we see. And that, suddenly, can be changed for the better.
Can one book change the world? Only if it succeeds in changing the individual. Only if you are willing to change. I am keeping my fingers crossed.