“Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!”

Adventures of a Curious Character

My book review this week is Surely You’re Joking Mr. Feynman by Richard P. Feynman.

Besides winning the Nobel Prize in physics in 1965, Feynman was an eccentric, larger than life character with a list of achievements and accolades that are hard to fathom. He actively worked on the development of the atomic bomb, traded ideas with Einstein, Bohr, and Nick the Greek, cracked safes guarding highly sensitive atomic secrets, played bongo drums for a ballet, along with a host of other eclectic activities and accomplishments. This is a highly entertaining book full of funny stories, technical theory, and valuable life principles.

My takeaways from this book are the principles that Feynman discovered and exemplified throughout his life. I have listed a few of them below:

Are You Strategic Or Mindlessly Moving Piles of Dirt?

A few months ago a friend and I were discussing a new leadership role that he recently stepped into. Although he is really successful and likes his new role, he told me that the thing he misses most about his old role was that he isn’t moving piles of dirt anymore. When I asked him what he meant, he said that his old role was much more tactical and at the end of the day he could clearly see what he had accomplished. It was like moving piles of dirt. There was an instant acknowledgement that he was making or had made some progress and achieved something. In his new role as a leader, he is much more strategic and much less tactical. It can be weeks, months or years before the true value of a strategy pays off and he sees results and “the pile of dirt” has moved!