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Sunday, July 31st, 2011

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11:25p
None dare call it "seedy" ...
I recently was in touch with the Wiley folks about another book, and they offered to send out four new ones, including this. I'd noted (maybe over in The Job Stalker) that I'd not had much to write about book-wise on the job search, and this set certainly puts me on the other side of that!

Admittedly, Jon Gordon's The Seed: Finding Purpose and Happiness in Life and Work is not about about the job search, but more about “getting one's head together” in general. As I've mentioned here before, I'm not a great fan of “teaching stories” or other “fictionalized” accounts, so moving into this ran smack into that attitude. There obviously must be an audience out there that likes to have its metaphysical info packaged this way, given what massive successes various books in the genre have been, but I'm always struggling with them, trying to anticipate what the point is that the author's dancing around, or cringing in anticipation of some (to me) less savory turn of plot.

As these sorts of books go, however, this was OK … while the main character had come out of a “preachy” background (it's a standard modality in the genre, I'm afraid), and had considered Bible-thumping as a career, that was pretty much as far as it went into being a “tract”, as in most of the rest of the book whenever the “G-word” came up it was fairly solidly presented in a non-denominational theistic mode. This is, of course, one of my main problems with these “teaching stories”, I spend the whole book steeling myself to deflect the “preaching” that is typically snuck in … like going to lunch with a network marketer, you're getting twitchy in anticipation of when “the pitch” is going to come. While that shoe never quite drops in The Seed, it does constantly feel like it's “just around the corner”. Of course, that could “just be me” … but if you have the same hesitancy with this sort of thing, it's good to know going in!

Of course, the other problem with story books like this is that they're far more difficult to sum up than books that say what they have to say in a coherent and direct manner. This is about a guy named Josh who had grown up in the ministry, had been some sort of singing youth pastor before going to college, discovered that business was more to his liking than preaching, and had gone off to make a fairly good start to a career in some company that is only vaguely fleshed out. After 5 years there he is somewhat burned out, and his boss orders him off on a 2-week vacation to decide if he wants to stay there. This is where the book starts, him driving off to a “corn maze” to spend a day with some of his friends. Again, this is one of the things I “have issues with” in these sorts of books, just as the job isn't defined, “his friends” seem to only exist to get him to “where he needs to be” for the story points. I guess at this point, for the fiction fans out there, I should throw up a big >SPOILER WARNING< … as what he encounters in the corn maze is a suddenly-appearing old farmer (who is, as is no great surprise, a ghost) who talks to him about his life path and hands him a seed, along with a bunch of discussion and instructions regarding it that Josh (ahem ...) somehow manages to retain verbatim the rest of the book.

Once out of the maze, he is convinced to go up in a plane ride, which very conveniently is right there by the corn maze and has a pilot who's eager to take up one more rider (and his dog), for another dose of unexpected “wisdom” that just so happens to neatly dove-tail with the words of the Farmer. Oh, did I mention the dog … his dog is called Dharma, a gift to him of his now-departed college girlfriend, and he spends a lot of time talking through his thoughts to the dog, who then adds her own commentary about how “humans are” and how she knows stuff that he still has to work out.

He ends up encountering various other “convenient” connections, from a restaurant manager that he used to work for (who unexpectedly just happens to need some staff just when he shows up), to a head-hunter who calls him to immediately fly out to an interview for a very attractive job. He has encounters with his favorite professor from college, a student in a wheelchair who used to be a football player, a fellow in an airplane, and another couple of visits to the farm.

About three quarters through the book, he comes to the conclusion that he'll go back (refreshed and refocused) to his old job. His boss it thrilled, and he starts moving forward. At this point the book sort of telescopes through time showing Josh using the principles he'd learned in his 2-week assigned vacation to developing his career. To check out some of this, you can go to the “teleseminar” at http://seed11.com … but you can also just flip to p.144 where the main points of the book are presented.

Needless to say, The Seed was not in the most useful format for me (I probably got more out of P.144 than the rest of the book!), but if “stories” like this speak to you, I'm sure you'll find it instructive. Again, this was not “bad”, just “not my cup of tea”, and I was pleased that it had ghostly apparitions and (almost) talking dogs instead of the preachy stuff that I kept expecting when the author gets into flinging the G-word around as much as he does at some points. This has only been out a month or so, and should be at your local brick-and-mortar, but both of the on-line guys currently have it at a 44% discount.


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