Charles Duhigg illustrates helpful mind exercises for the aspiring achiever.

Your coworker might have super powers.

He does more in a morning than you do in a day and a half. He answers all emails with efficiency, keeps phone calls to a minimum, his clients love him, the competition wants him and you're pretty sure he's more powerful than a locomotive. So what's his secret? In Smarter Faster Better by Charles Duhigg, you'll see that the "S" beneath his suit doesn't just stand for "super."

It's a question that's plagued humanity since the beginning of time cards: How is it that some people are more successful and productive than others?

After receiving a surprising email from a super-productive fellow author, Duhigg wondered that same thing. The answer, as he came to see, is in seven parts.

Productive people, first of all, know how to motivate themselves, which "is triggered by making choices that demonstrate … control." They also can clearly determine the "why" for their actions.

While focus may seem to be a productive thing, Duhigg says that it depends on the type of focus. "Cognitive tunneling" can cause projects to crash. Reactive thinking may be too rash. Instead, "cultivate a habit of imagining" the way things can and should be.

Set goals, but learn how to make them both smart and stretchy. Manage wisely by letting the person "closest to a problem" be in charge of fixing the problem. And finally, learn how to absorb data by eating the metaphoric elephant, one bite at a time.

So many tasks, so little time? You won't feel that way again, once you've read and applied Smarter Faster Better to your work and life.

Duhigg indicates in several places that humans learn by telling stories and that's exactly what he does here: To illustrate each of his seven main points, Duhigg employs tales from Toyota, Disney, the FBI, the US Marine Corps and other organizations. Those anecdotes clearly show how each brain trick leads to achieving what needs to be done and how they fit within the other six methods.

If you're thinking ahead about next year's graduation, this is a great book to give. It's the perfect shape for that empty spot on your bookshelf. If you want success to be your super power, then Smarter Faster Better may help you leap over the competition in just a single bound.