Reading List: Four Seconds

A four-second time-out—the duration of a deep breath—can mean the difference between screwing up and being successful on any given day, says best-selling author and consultant Peter Bregman.

This quick pause “can be powerful enough to subvert a poor decision and replace it with a smarter one,” writes Bregman, a Harvard Business Review columnist who scored big with his last book, 2011’s 18 Minutes: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction, and Get the Right Things Done.

The time frame matters less than the objective. Bregman’s point in Four Seconds is that a quick time-out is all you need to take a step back, override knee-jerk responses, reassess your behavior and adjust your reactions. He aims to help readers improve personal and professional interactions and optimize their work habits through incremental changes—ditching the urge to be perfect, making time for rituals, being helpful instead of nice, accepting criticism and establishing boundaries with others. While the ideas aren’t revolutionary, Bregman’s amiable style, positivity and encouraging advice are enough to keep the reader’s attention.

by Peter Bregman
February; HarperOne; $26

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