Skardu. Gilget-Baltistan region of northern Pakistan.

The above photo has no relevance to the following post. It’s just a favorite of mine that brings back warm memories. Following is a continuation of the new 3rd edition Preface:

…Since the second edition was published two years ago, how was I able to make a massive improvement? For starters, after repeatedly delivering the concept to groups, individuals, and the media, I’m able to explain it better. Practice makes perfect. Another reason is that I’ve lived these concepts day and night for several more years now; I simply understand the principles better and, in my head, have tied some loose ends together. Also, via reader feedback, I’ve witnessed the success of the principles as I’ve seen them applied in a variety of situations, and this gives me a wider perspective of how it works outside my own experience. And finally, after more than two years of weekly posts on my website, I’m simply a better writer. (This means my older writing can sometimes be a bit of an embarrassment to me. Ouch. To that end, if you have a hard copy of one of my previous editions, softcover or hardcover, send it to me and I’ll send you a free copy of this latest edition. There’s a very minimal charge to cover production, shipping, and handling. Go to workthesystem.com/newbook for details. No, I can’t do a book exchange for PDF or audio versions, and I may cease this offer at some time in the future.)

I’ll go here at the risk of proselytizing: in group presentations as I begin to discuss my nonholistic/mechanical take on life, there is always some initial head shaking from the follow-your-bliss contingent (of which I used to be a member) who feel that they are called to rise above the mechanical world in order to focus on the spiritual. They believe the spiritual pursuit is noble and superior and shouldn’t be hampered by the restrictive job of dealing with petty issues in the here and now. My response, which invariably gets them head nodding instead of head shaking, is that we are all spiritual beings existing in a mechanical world. Until we learn to assertively steer the raw mechanics of our lives, we cannot get to a place that gives us the freedom to pursue what is beyond this concrete reality because we will always be pulled back into it out of sheer necessity. We must get our physical world, with all its boring and base considerations, straightened out before it will allow us to focus on anything beyond it. Yet, having said that, this beautifully orchestrated mechanical existence that we experience from day to day can be perceived as a powerfully spiritual place if we can stop judging it and simply see it for what it is. For Westerners especially, it’s a reverse tack, to use the mechanical to enter the spiritual. Give it a shot if the other sequence hasn’t met your expectations.

And, back to the subject of producing a better-quality book: there is this system-improvement thing. Work the System is about systems, and a book is a system in itself. It’s an enclosed entity, with a myriad of spinning wheels, all contributing to the singular purpose of that entity, that is, to accomplish a goal. And like our lives, a book is never perfect, and so there is always room for betterment. Herein lies a problem within the publishing industry that I have managed to circumvent. Read on.

I have an interesting contractual relationship with my publisher, Greenleaf Book Group. It’s fundamentally different from 99.9 percent of author/publisher deals because I have been able to keep the rights to my manuscript. I can tweak it to my own heart’s delight when I feel the need (of course, all the while paying close attention to the recommendations of Greenleaf’s fine editors).

Normally, getting published means the author’s rights to the work are forfeited forever to the publishing company. New authors, frantic to avoid permanent residence in the dustbin of the self-published, sell their souls to traditional publishing companies. The consequence is that, for starters, the original manuscript is handed over to an editor who, depending on competence, style, personality, attitude, mood of the moment, degree of belief/interest in the subject matter, and experience (often editors for first-book authors are just out of college), will often render the originally submitted manuscript unrecognizable. There is no recourse for the author. The editors have the final say on the content of the published book and any subsequent renditions.

“Here,” says the new author to the publisher, “I want to be published so, yes, take my wife and do what you want with her.”

And, with that profound abdication, good luck to the industrious scribe who wants to make changes in his/her work later on and asks the publisher for another printing or, heaven forbid, requests a new edition. There’s no going back to tweak the book without the publisher’s line-by-line approval, and 99 percent of the time that approval won’t be forthcoming.

So, because I wanted precise control over this master statement of what I believe, I sought an alternative to the traditional publishing deal. I think you’ll find the following chronology of the book’s development interesting for that reason, and for another: the history of Work the System is a perfect illustration of the systems mindset that is the centerpiece of the book itself.

(Third Edition Preface concluded next week)

Photo by Sam Carpenter

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