I recently finished reading Orbiting the Giant Hairball – A Corporate Fool’s Guide to Surviving with Grace – by Gordon MacKenzie. As the title indicates this is a book about the importance of maintaining our creative genius and not falling into the trap corporate normalcy.
Below are key excerpts from the book:
On our creative genius:
Why would anyone want to suppress genius? Well, it is not intentional. It is not a plot. Genius is an innocent casualty in society’s efforts to train children away from natural-born foolishness.
Our creative genius is the fountainhead of originality. It fires our compulsion to evolve. It inspires us to challenge norms. Creative genius is about flying to new heights on untested wings. It is about the danger of crashing. It is amorphous, magical, unmeasurable and unpredictable…But we need our genius to bail ourselves out of the messes we continually get ourselves into. So, individually, we must override the cartel, set aside our herd longing for security through sameness and seek the help of our natural genius. Yours and mine.
On orbiting the hairball:
Orbiting is responsible creativity: vigorously exploring and operating beyond the Hairball of the corporate mind-set, beyond “accepted models, patterns, or standards” — all the while remaining connected to the spirit of the corporate mission. To find Orbit around a corporate Hairball is to find a place of balance where you benefit from the physical, intellectual and philosophical resources of the organization without becoming entombed in the bureaucracy of the institution…Through this measured assertion of your own uniqueness, it is possible to establish a dynamic relationship with the Hairball — to Orbit around the institutional mass. If you do this, you make an asset of the gravity in that it becomes a force that keeps you from flying out into the overwhelming nothingness of deep space. But if you allow that same gravity to suck you into the bureaucratic Hairball, you will find yourself in a different kind of nothingness. The nothingness of a normalcy made stagnant by a compulsion to cling to past successes. The nothingness of the Hairball.
On starting within a new organization:
When you come into an organization, you bring with you an arcane potency, which stems, in part from your uniqueness. That, in turn. is rooted in a complex mosaic of personal history that is original, unfathomable, inimitable. There has never been anyone quite like you, and there never will be. Consequently, you can contribute something to an endeavor that nobody else can. There is a power in your uniqueness — an inexplicable, unmeasurable power. But if you are hypnotized by an organization’s culture, you become separated from your personal magic and cannot tap it to help achieve the goals of the organization. In losing connection with your one-of-a-kind magic, you are reduced to nothing more than part of the headcount. Deep inside the Hairball.
On the downside of exclusive focus on productivity:
Too many enterprises seem self-destructively locked into a debilitating reality of 100 percent perspiration and zero percent inspiration. A healthier alternative is the Orbit of trust that allows time — without immediate, concrete evidence of productivity — for the miracle of creativity to occur.
On the importance of courage:
Ah! Courage, courage, courage. Courage to cross boundaries. Courage to admit idiocy. Courage to acknowledge impasse. Courage to Courage to acknowledge impasse. Courage to acknowledge impasse. Courage to successfully to the consequences of exploring beyond authorities’ successfully to the consequences of exploring beyond authorities’ sometimes-beneficial, sometimes-detrimental boundaries. And, if we are to grow, explore we must.
On living midfully:
Somewhere between the ridiculous extremes of vegetating and suicide is the right place for each of us. I’ve got a feeling that right place is different for you and for me. A different place for different times of our lives and different parts of our lives. Generally, though, my suggestion is, if you want to live more fully, start somewhere my suggestion is, it you want to live mope fully, start somewhere mindfully, ever so mindfully, toward the free end.
On the importance of letting go:
To be fully free to create, we must first find the courage and willingness to let go: Let go of the strategies that have worked for us in the past…Let go of our biases, the foundation of our illusions…Let go of our grievances, the root source of our victimhood.. Let go of our so-often-denied fear of being found unlovable. You will find it is not a one-shot deal, this letting go. You must do it again and again and again. It’s kind of like breathing. You can’t breathe just once. Try it: Breathe just once. You’ll pass out. If you stop letting go, your creative spirit will pass out. Now when I say let go, I do not mean reject. Because when you let go of something, it will still be there for you when you need it. But because you have stopped clinging, you will have freed yourself up to tap into other possibilities — possibilities that can help you deal with this world of accelerating change.
A thought provoking read!