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August 01 , 2009

Four Seconds

All the Time You Need to Stop Counter-Productive Habits and Get the Results You Want


All too often our best efforts to accomplish the things we want most—to do our jobs well, to make meaningful contributions at home and at work, to have satisfying relationships with loved ones, friends, neighbors, and coworkers—are built on bad habits that sabotage us. We feel overwhelmed by our increasingly large to-do list, so we automatically multitask to get more done—and end up more stressed and more overloaded. We say something with the hopes of impressing the other person, but instead of end them—then spend days trying to repair the damage. We give what we think is a pep talk to our team— but they walk away demotivated.

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How can we be most effective and productive in a world that moves too fast and demands so much of us?

In Four Seconds, Peter Bregman shows that the answer is to pause for as few as four seconds—the length of a deep breath—to replace bad habits and reactions with more productive behaviors. In his trademark style of blending personal anecdotes with practical advice, Bregman reveals some of our most common counter-productive tendencies and describes counter-intuitive strategies for acting more intentionally, including:

  • Why setting goals can actually harm your performance
  • How to use strategic disengagement to recover focus and willpower
  • Why listening—not arguing—is the best strategy for changing someone's mind
  • How taking responsibility for someone else's failure can actually help you succeed

Drawn from Bregman's hugely popular Harvard Business Review blog, this engaging and wise book provides simple solutions to create the results you want without the stress.

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