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Crunch Time by Ken Lindner, (Gotham Books, $25). Once a William Morris talent agent, Ken Lindner is the star of his self-help memoir about decision-making. He describes himself as a late bloomer. He was a "fat kid" till he threw himself into sports and began his evolution into a trim high school tennis star, and a mediocre student until senior year, when his grades were good enough to get him into Harvard. There he captained the tennis team and graduated magna cum laude.

He ascribes his transformation to careful preparation for "crunch times" -- not just big life decisions but those many daily choices that can sabotage pursuit of what you want in your "heart of hearts."

He has codified his ideas under the subtitle "8 Steps to Making the Right Life Decisions at the Right Times," but watch out for Step 3. To "identify, explore, and then apply the appropriate Crunch Time strategies," you'll need to mull 25 more baby steps and their possible interactions, such as conflicts between spontaneity and "the three D's of decision making: desire, discipline and delayed gratification."

Lindner undersells the usefulness of brute single-mindedness, but he's a genial guide to thinking about how you think.
-- Knight Ridder Newspapers

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