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Book Review

by lyn christian on November 18, 2009

BookMy all-time favorite book to read is Orbiting the Giant Hairball, by Gordon MacKenzie. I say favorite book to read because that is what I do with it. I don’t consider it a book I have read. Once every 18 months to 2 years I pull it out and read it cover-to-cover. I’m reading it now with one of my clients as we apply the creative teachings to her life.

Having just finished a five-part series on the Hedgehog Concept, it is appropriate to share this short excerpt from MacKenzie’s brilliant book:

Chapter Six

Though Shalt Not Have It Easy

“During the course of his singularly unsuccessful efforts to make a pool player out of me, my father told me…the excitement he had felt as he entered the exhibition hall of a championship match. He spoke of his surge of anticipation when the house lights dimmed. In the center of the hall, an ornately carved pool table stood in a rectangle of brilliant light.  A short, stout figure in black tuxedo emerged from the darkness and stood a moment, contemplating the precise triangle of colored pool balls waiting at the table’s end… he drew a pool cue… taking aim… CRACK! …he sent the colored balls scattering like little bumper cars across the green felt arena. The match had begun.

                ‘Two ball.’ Click…thunk.

                ‘Seven ball.’ Click…thunk.

                ‘Four ball.’ Click…thunk.

One after another, the man dispatched the balls to their pockets. And the match turned out to be no match at all… Expecting to be thrilled by daring and spectacular competition, my father was, instead, treated to an evening of quiet mastery…

When a corporation prizes those who are heroically overworked in stress-filled jobs, a siren song whispers to everyone else in the organization:

                Make your job difficult,

                Stretch yourself thin,

                Stress yourself out

                And eventually you too may be honored with executive approval….”

Gordon MacKenzie goes on to make the point that if we play into this cultural seduction that working hard enough and working long enough are the greatest value we offer to our job, we are caught in a hairball of illusion. He asks us to think about the quality of our lives an if they are, “continually eroded by contrived travail?” He finishes this chapter by saying:

“Wouldn’t a more promising choice be to turn your back on the Overworked-as-an-end-in-itself Game and, instead enlist the hidden genius within you and develop the skills to play like a champion?”

I would challenge you to play by your findings in the Hedgehog exercise. Play like a champion with quiet, sure, minimal efforts.

I would also suggest that reading this book will help you keep in touch with the creative, brilliant individual that you are. Buy it. Read it. Read it again.

Orbiting the Giant Hairball, by MacKenzie Gordon (Hardcover – Jan 1, 1998) 

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About the Author:  Lyn Christian is the founder of SoulSalt, Inc., a coaching and coach training company.  She is passionate about the “free-agent” worker who wants to earn their living and live their lives by doing what inspires them.  Get more information by visiting www.soulsalt.com or contact Lyn directly through lyn@thecoachtoolkit.com.

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