So, I’ve owned a copy of Michael E. Gerber’s E-Myth Mastery for about a year and a half now. Something about its size (over 400 pages) and the grandiose subtitle “The Seven Essential Disciplines for Building a World Class Company” put me off.
I think the timing was also bad. I purchased it near the end of my stint as an independent. I am wise enough to say that stint was no failure, but I also felt that I simply could not do what I wanted to do (build and be on great teams) as an independent. To do that, I would have been (and was) dependent on a middleman or middle-agency. I wanted a bit more say in all that, so I joined up with some others (see previous posts such as “uninescapable the uncertainty cost of subcontracting” and “reusable practices“).
I started out my life as an independent reading Gerber’s E-Myth Revisited, in which he argues that most people starting a business are undergoing a temporary entrepreneurial spasm and really have no idea what they’re getting into (casting themselves as the main technician/worker bee, the manager, and the salesperson). He argues that most of “us” aren’t cut out for being an entrepreneur. Many smart friends pressed that book on me, and I read it, and it was largely accurate. My interest is in systems of people, not in being alone, and I am a poor salesperson. I’d much rather tell you what’s wrong with whatever I’m selling than what’s right with it. So, I’m a living example of Gerber’s point. I’m smarter in a team than I am on my own.
Anyway, I am in the first 100 pages of this tome, which I’ve been putting off because it looked like such an investment, and I realized by skimming the table of contents that he’ll get to the subtitle (the seven essential disciplines) in the second section of the book. Hmmm. The copyeditor in me is thinking maybe we can just strike large sections of the beginning. But, as I’m reading it, the first half is about practicing to think like an entrepreneur and practicing at removing the blocks we all put in our own way-blocks against change, resistance to following the good advice of others, blocks even against success. Essentially, this isn’t a “business book” at all, it is about transformation. Fascinating.
Gerber even talks about heaven and hell. Now, I don’t have much patience with a cotton candy heaven or a firey inferno elsewhere. I think those concepts only make sense in the context of this very moment, in the situations we create for ourselves, in the situations that result from our own behavior. I believe I have responsibility for creating the conditions of my life, and I know I’m in control of my own response to situations and other people. It’s up to me whether I experience my day-to-day life as essentially positive or as tedious or worse. Gerber speaks to exactly this point, to taking responsibility for our own vision, and to the hell that we create for ourselves by reenacting old patterns of behavior that may have been useful in other situations but no longer apply.
In The Strange Life of Ivan Osokin, Ouspensky says that reincarnation is not what we’ve been led to think it is, but rather that we’re reborn to relieve exactly the same life we’ve lived, over and over again, until we make a significant choice in a moment to do something different than we’ve done it, life after life. In that moment we are instantly transformed. Ouspensky was saying that hell on earth is life as we have always lived it, and heaven on earth is breaking free of our long-standing patterns. I don’t have to tell you that it takes an enormous amount of energy, passion, determination, and will to even see the patterns, let alone break free of them.
I suspect as I go further in the book, I’ll have very different things to say about it. I expected it to provide concrete recommendations for systems and practices to consider and implement, things I hope to apply to my day-to-day work. I didn’t expect it to connect so directly to yoga, to my meditation practice, and to self-transformation, but I suppose I already know better, that it is all connected. It is just fascinating to see the connections drawn so distinctly.