I despised my school years and when I think back to those times, I cannot think of anything positive in my life that I can connect with it. It should be a wondrous period in your life where you get to learn so many wonderful things while becoming a more rounded and intellectual person. Instead it just becomes a prison to house children while their parents go to work and earn money to pay the bills.
I believe that one of the reasons I hated school was because the theory and practice of education was so boring. I remember sitting in lecture halls while teachers stalked the room talking nonsense as I tried in vain to stay awake. I remember reading books like Inspector Calls and Of Mice and Men. Books that I felt no connection with and couldn’t understand what value I was supposed to gain from them.
When I left school and started to work in the Rail Industry I harboured the same feelings of annoyance. I would be sent on training courses to develop my intellect but would find no sense of fulfillment. It was like feeding Andre the Giant a lettuce sandwich. Then one day a colleague of mine told me about a book called The Goal by Eliyahu M.Goldratt and Jeff Cox. I was a reader of fiction back then and had just been introduced to non-fiction books after reading The Easy Way to Stop Smoking by Allen Carr. My colleague told me that this book was different because it merged business process with storytelling. None of what he said made any sense to me, but armed with my newfound belief in non-fiction – after giving up smoking – I bought it.
What I read was an ingenious way of teaching people the meaning of education. Whereas some educational textbooks are difficult to read, The Goal had it’s sails flying in the wind. In short, I never wanted to put it down because the story that was interweaved into the education was interesting, and I felt a connection with it. In a nutshell you have a plant manager stuck with the difficult task of saving his plant from closure and his marriage from the divorce courts. Now who cannot associate with that? It’s just such a shame that my textbooks weren’t like this when I was in school.
Goldratt and Cox believe that we learn through our deductive process and not by being represented with final conclusions. By writing the book as a story they presented the reader with a plot and the readers had to use their deductive process to learn and educate themselves. Goldratt and Cox say it better in their own words:
“It’s about people trying to understand what makes their world tick so that they can make it better. As they think logically and consistently about their problems they are able to determine “cause and effect” relationships between their actions and the results.”
People will tell you that this book is about manufacturing process but when I read it I was in the business of service. No sooner had I read this book I set about making changes in my workplace, but much more than that it got me thinking more about life and the way that it works. I truly believe that reading the The Goal no sooner after giving up smoking really started to open my eyes.
It was the beginning of my journey of becoming a Daydreamer.
What is the most influential book you have ever read? Please share it with us.
I managed to excel in the rail industry because I was aggressive, hard working, had an ounce of intelligence but most of all I had very little competition. The railway ranks were filled based on nepotism and you could have made up your CV and told people you spoke ten languages and they would never have questioned you.
The training courses were poor, the people none too bright and this is why we struggled to make a profit. As a whole the management system was filled of people who were simply not smart enough and I was one of them.
When I read The Goal a light went on in my empty head. I started to understand the relationship between cause and effect and it gave me ideas to try something new in the workplace. My colleagues thought I was mad because I was trying to rock the status quo, and over time I would realise that there was no place in the railway system for a man who wanted to excel – for that man was seen as a threat and not as an aid.
I have started to write my own memoirs and Goldratt’s style is embellished all over it. A story of continual self-improvement written as a fast paced thriller. This is how this book is so inspirational to me.