Farsighted Book Summary - Farsighted Book explained in key points
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Farsighted summary

How We Make the Decisions That Matter the Most

3.9 (102 ratings)
20 mins

Brief summary

Farsighted by Steven Johnson sheds light on the art of decision making. Johnson advises to counterintuitively embrace complexity of challenges and build adaptable, diverse networks. Learn how to navigate uncertain situations and succeed.

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    We all fall prey to our blind spots while making decisions, even George Washington.

    In the summer of 1776, the Revolutionary War in North America was in full swing. The Americans, led by George Washington, sought to break free from the shackles of British rule. But the British refused to let go. As they massed their navy with New York in their sights, Washington was left in a quandary. Although it was clear that an attack was coming, it was less clear how the British would launch it.

    This lesson from history demonstrates just how complex decision-making in real-life situations can be.

    Washington was faced with what’s known as a full-spectrum decision. That means numerous factors had to be taken into account for the right decision to be made.

    In the battle for New York, Washington had a lot to think about. Where were there landing sites for British ships on the New York coast? What effect would the strong currents of the East River have in moving his own troops from New York to Brooklyn?

    Washington also had to consider the damage British cannons could do against New York’s fortifications and the potential risk of life for his own soldiers in pitched battle. He even had to consider the internal American politics in the Continental Congress, which demanded that he stand firm against the British.

    Needless to say, Washington had a tough time deciding what to do, and eventually, he found himself making the wrong decision. He actually erred in the very first one he made. He shouldn’t even have tried to defend New York at all. Since the superior British outnumbered his forces, it would have been much easier to retreat inland. But this mistake is not unique to Washington – we are often prone to forget our blind spots when making decisions.

    There’s a name for this common error in human reasoning. It’s known as loss aversion. Studies repeatedly show it to be a characteristic innate to humans. We prefer to resist losses than to seek gains, even when it’d be better in the long run to do the opposite. Washington, however, was smart enough not to stick it out until his troops were completely crushed. Once his forces began to lose, he quickly signaled the retreat. He was still a born leader, and the Revolutionary War would eventually be won, despite the many difficult decisions along the way.

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    What is Farsighted about?

    Farsighted (2018) is concerned with the complexity of decision-making. It demonstrates why decision-making can be so difficult, and how hard it can be to predict the outcome of any given decision. Farsighted also provides some helpful tools that can help anyone make better decisions, despite the difficulties.

    Farsighted Review

    Farsighted (2018) by Steven Johnson explores the power of long-term thinking in decision making and how it can shape our future. Here's why this book deserves your attention:

    • With its rich and diverse examples, the book showcases the importance of considering multiple perspectives before making decisions.
    • It offers a practical framework for improving our ability to foresee consequences and make better choices for ourselves and society.
    • Through its compelling storytelling and thought-provoking ideas, the book manages to keep the topic of decision making engaging and far from boring.

    Best quote from Farsighted

    You could fill an entire library wing with histories of people who failed to see momentous developments coming.

    —Steven Johnson
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    Who should read Farsighted?

    • Strategists and managers
    • Psychologists
    • Ditherers who struggle to make decisions

    About the Author

    Steven Johnson is a bestselling nonfiction author. His previous publications include Where Good Ideas Come From, How We Got to Now and Everything Bad is Good for You. Johnson is also a website creator and blogger and has co-created successful TV shows such as How We Got to Now, which aired on PBS and the BBC.

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    Farsighted FAQs 

    What is the main message of Farsighted?

    In Farsighted, we learn that making good decisions requires considering long-term consequences and alternative perspectives.

    How long does it take to read Farsighted?

    The reading time for Farsighted varies, but you can read the Blinkist summary in just 15 minutes.

    Is Farsighted a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Farsighted is a thought-provoking book that explores decision making. It's definitely worth a read for those interested in improving their decision-making skills.

    Who is the author of Farsighted?

    Steven Johnson is the author of Farsighted.

    What to read after Farsighted?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Farsighted, here are some recommendations we suggest:
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