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What are you reading at the moment?
I’m reading The Goal by Eliyahu Goldratt. Actually it’s a reread. This is my second time through. I’m also working through, albeit extremely slowly, and for the third time, No Bad Parts by Dr Richard Schwartz.
I get this question because nearly everything I read I can’t stop talking to people about. And nearly everything I read I desperately want everyone else to read. These two books in particular are life-changers for me. They’ve revolutionized my life or at least how I view how my life works and might be improved. I see everything now through the lens of The Goal. No Bad Parts on the other hand, is my cheat code for personal psychological growth. And when I synthesize the two together I feel like I’ve discovered the secret to living a fantastic life.
Big claims I know.
The Goal, as a book, is a wacky concept. It’s a “business novel”. Think thriller or murder mystery meets management of a manufacturing plant. The author, Goldratt, is a physicist turned management consultant/guru, who believes that western management, cost-cutting, and manufacturing practices are all self-defeating. If you see manufactured goods as, say, particles of water flowing from point A to point B in a stream, like any stream, there are constraints to that flow of water (or goods) and the flow through those constraints governs the flow of the entire stream. It’s the same idea as the chain being as strong as its weakest link. If the goal is to move goods or parts of goods from point A to point B through a manufacturing plant in the optimal way, you have to balance the flow through constraints with the demand at point B. The analogy to the stream breaks down here.
I see flow everywhere now. In a SaaS org like I work in day to day, there is a demand for solutions to problems, in our case problems, software developers have. We can optimize and improve the flow of solutions from request/demand (point A) to usage/monetary exchange (point B) . For me too, there is demand for my time/attention and it flows from some mysterious inner source (point A) to the thing attended to, say, a podcast, article, task, or relationship (point B). And this leads me to No Bad Parts as my cheat code, but first a bit about the book.
No Bad Parts is by Dr. Dick Schwartz who as a young psychologist began counseling people using family systems therapy. In his early years practicing this mode of therapy he found that it wasn’t as effective as he hoped. But as he worked with patients, for example, young people suffering from bulimia, he found that they would talk about “parts” of themselves. It’s not uncommon to do this colloquially. We often say, “well, part of me really wants to go out with him but this other part is screaming that he’s bad for me,” feels like something I’d overhear someone say in a vegan Brooklyn coffee shop. What he found, however, is that if he doubled down and took his patients literally he could engage with parts of patients and work with each like he would a family member in a family systems therapy session with all family members present. And so, *Internal* Family Systems therapy was born.
After reading No Bad Parts, late last year I signed myself up for this mode of therapy. In this therapy each week I intuit what a “part” of me is trying to communicate to me through a thought loop I’m stuck in, an uncomfortable pattern I’m experiencing, or a tension in my body. As I do this, as the theory goes, I “unburden” my parts and they get freed up to be and do what they prefer. As they unburden the flow of “Self”, as Dr. Schwartz puts it, and the 8 C’s (clarity, compassion, curiosity, connectedness, calmness, creativity, courage, and confidence) that the Self naturally exhibits, improves over time. Burdens are constraints and as you begin to identify them and work with them and manage them a more ideal flow ensues.
An example of a part I’ve run into in a session is a little guy who experiences extreme pressure to do everything and succeed perfectly at all of it in life in general. Often, I experience this part trying to connect with me through a tension in my chest that I describe as an elephant sitting on my chest, sometimes for hours or days at a time. Ideally, over time I can connect with this part and help it to release this burden or pressure so it’s free to do whatever it wants sans pressure to succeed according to others’ definitions.
I love when I get this interplay between two books but it makes part of me want to talk everyone’s ear off about each and both and all these realizations. Be careful asking me what I’m reading. That part might corner you at a cocktail party and possibly bore you to tears about all my epiphanies. Maybe I’ll try writing blog posts instead of cornering at cocktail parties.