x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Life Lessons: Author Sylvia Nasar

Sylvia Nasar is an American economist and author best known for A Beautiful Mind, her biography of the mathematical genius John Nash.

Author Sylvia Nasar will appear at the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair 2011. Courtesy Eileen Fisher Inc
Author Sylvia Nasar will appear at the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair 2011. Courtesy Eileen Fisher Inc

1. Time is all you've got. A friend at The New York Times used to say this to me every day. He was talking about the stories you spend it on and the people you spend it with. He was very selective about both. I try to make sure that I'm spending my time on the things and people in my life that really matter.

2. Take your time. This may seem to contradict lesson No. 1. Most creative work takes longer than you think it will or than you'd like it to. But patience and attentiveness are actually more efficient than hurrying.

3. Catch more flies with honey. This one's so obvious that I don't know why it took so long to sink in. Don't confuse being nice with being weak. My best friend, who is Australian, has the most wonderful manners. She treats everyone, especially the people who work for her, with enormous respect and consideration. As a result, she's able to make her life, which includes a family, a demanding job and writing fiction, work to all advantages.

4. Take one step at a time. Irving Fisher, a great American economist of the last century, compared Napoleon's mind to a chest of drawers. He would open a drawer, deal with its contents, and then shut it completely before moving on to the next one. Breaking big problems into smaller ones and focusing on the matter at hand are my mantras.

5. Make firm decisions. I've spent a lot of time being afraid of making big decisions. Then it dawned on me: making decisions is like everything else in life, something you can learn how to do and become better at with practice.

As told to Jemma Nicholls