You’ve Got Mail!
October 24, 2008
By Laurie Clarke, Chief Operating Officer, The Tatham Group
Late one morning in the dead of summer, I checked the mail at the front door of our Madison Avenue office. Strewn among letters, flyers and magazines was a mysterious little black book with a bold claim: “Master your Whole Life” by Bob Reed.
Master my whole life in 120 pages? Yeah right. I can’t even master my day in 120 pages! Nevertheless, curiosity got the better of me and I flipped open to the first page. It read:
“The purpose of this book is to help bridge the gap between science, technology and human development. It’s because of this ever-widening gap, in which human development has left far behind that we’re faced with many personal crises and social problems.”
Interesting. I read on.
“This book presents knowledge, skills and attitudes that, when mastered, will enable people to integrate personal development with practical acheivement. It shows how to work with personal development as a systematic and ongoing process to reverse the historical trend of a peicemeal, occasional approach. It also provides systems, principles, strategies, and techniques which, when consistently and accurately used, will help individuals evolve and continue growing in their day-to-day lives. In addition, it fuses meditation with the scientific method to assist people in making better decisions and solving problems more effectively.”
Now that’s uncanny. It sounds like something out of our marketing material with an esoteric twist. What was even more strange was that this book landed on our doorstep not long after we’d been sitting around one afternoon, talking about possibly offering The Tatham Systematic Method as a holistic approach to both professional and personal development. (In fact, Michael J. Tatham often tells us the story of a couple he met many years ago that learned how to apply the Tatham Method, and decided to use the same approach in marriage counseling.)
If you think about it, the idea makes perfect sense: when we change the way we think about problem-solving (whether it’s at work or at home) this mind shift is bound to spill over into all aspects of our lives. It’s not something you can just turn on and off: when you change the way you think, it becomes a fundamental approach to everything you do. In fact, we frequently hear our trainees say, ‘this has changed my career and my life.’
As I continued reading through the book, it seems that Bob Reed has developed a similar philosophy to Tatham’s: by taking a systematic and logical approach to our behaviour and communications; developing strategies based on scientific evidence; taking a contextual approach (ie. talking to customers and stakeholders); challenging conventional thinking; and always accepting feedback – we can develop our personal and professional capabilities and move forward to being happy, successful and effective individuals.
Perhaps, however, Reed’s most interesting point is that both personal development and scientific achievement are necessary to survive in this planet. He writes:
“The basic problem, however, is inherent in the fact that material development generally, and science and technology specifically, have by leaps and bounds outstripped human development. Humans have over the past several thousand years, developed very little human development compared to material development. In this area, they have generally operated in a hit and miss fashion. The approach has been mostly unorganized and unsystematic.”
And thus, unsustainable – a word that has generally been so overused that most people forget its true meaning: “not able to be maintained at the current rate or level.” In other words, if science has enabled us to evolve and progress to become much more sophisticated beings, then why not apply the same concepts to our humanistic side? Reed suggests this would help address the widespread social disorganization and psychological problems plaguing our world today. And in a world where every answered question generally brings on more questions, wouldn’t we want a way of thinking that allows us to consistently cope with this change?
Though I’m not convinced the answer to mastering your whole life can be solved simply by reading a book, I’m sure you will agree that applying the principles of systematic thinking to every aspect of life is bound to have a positive effect. At the very least, it will allow you to better understand the world around you. And isn’t that a step to mastering your life?