Have you ever read a book and thought to yourself: "I wish I would have written that!"? Well, this is my book like that.
I'm just re-reading "Orbiting the Giant Hairball" by the late Gordon MacKenzie and I'm inspired all over again.
How is it that I'm just figuring out all of this "bring your whole self to work" stuff and so many people have gotten it so many years ago? Case in point: Gordon MacKenzie.
Back in the early 1950s, according to the back cover of this book, Gordon flunked out of the Univesrity of British Columbia and later stumbled into a job as a cartoonist and writer for the Vancouver Sun. While at Hallmark Cards, Gordon didn't find so much as he created his niche. His title there was Creative Paradox.
Gordon imparts so much wisdom in this fabulous book and it's a blast to read, too! Here are a couple of little snippets:
"Being infinite, the whole of reality is too much for the conscious human mind to grasp. The best any one of us can do is to take the biggest slice of Infinite Reality we can hold - intellectually, spiritually, and emotionally - and make that slice our personal sense of what is real. But no matter how broad it is, any human perception of reality can be no more than a tiny sliver of Infinite Reality.
"Civilization also has a limited perception of Infinite Reality. And with a haughty self-assurance, it imposes that perception on us until we think it is our own. The same is true of the companies we work for. They have their perceptions of reality and they impose them on us. As a result, we are wrapped in a cocoon of realities perceived by others who came before us. It is a cocoon that gives us a sense of emotional security through connection to a shared belief. But it is also a shroud that binds and cripples us as surely as the ancient social abuse of binding Chinese women's feet crippled them." (p. 45)
Through his original stories and drawings, Gordon shows us what happens to organizations when they stifle individual creativity. Policies, procedures, rules, regulations - all become hairs which join together to form a giant hairball which eventually develops its own gravity. People are sucked in by promises of security, benefits, salary but often lose their souls in the meantime. Others, daunted by the structure, leave the organization to find more suitable employment. Gordon shows us that in order to have the best results both for the organization and the individuals within the organization, we need to help those creative beings find a way to orbit the giant hairball so they are not so close they're are sucked in, but not so far away that they leave.
Gordon's take on corporate America and his style of storytelling coupled with his original sketches makes this a must-read for anyone who feels the call of creativity within their corporate environment.
Can we carry Gordon's torch and light up our workplaces without succumbing to the suffocation of the cocoon or the gravity of the hairball?
It takes courage and persistence, both of which Gordon exhibited and both of which I'll do my best to follow. Who's with me?