“Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re probably right.” Henry Ford
To what does this book’s title refer? Phyllis Korkki explains: “it refers to a major project that is personally meaningful and requires sustained effort to complete. It requires us to create a unique structure that comes into view slowly as we focus on the individual pieces of it, time after incremental time…Big Things aren’t decided by employers or clients. They come from deep inside us, and reflect our personal talents, values, and points of view. They are a way for us to order our experience, and to connect and amplify the moments of our lives. But too often they remain obscured by the demands and distractions of everyday life, and by fears of failure.” Apparently this book was the creative project she once considered even if, she then realized, she was — her words — a “lazy, self-doubting procrastinator.”
However different Big Things may be in most respects, they share these main qualities:
o They are personally meaningful to the people who seek them. o There is often no firm deadline for completing them. o Their structure is large, complex, and at first unclear. o They require sustained concentration and effort.
Korkki wrote this book to help everyone who reads it to become proficient when in situations that include:
o Deciding whether or not to pursue what Jim Collins characterizes as a “Big Hairy Audacious Goals” (BHAG) o Identifying probable obstacles to success and how to avoid or overcome them o Retaining focus and determination when struggling to achieve their Big Thing o Knowing when (if ever) to suspend or terminate the pursuit
Personal digression: My father selected two Big Things on his 50th birthday. He was at that time a highly successful corporate executive and had neither the time nor the energy to pursue them immediately but could complete the research on what would be needed to become a world-class photographer, and, a world-class gardener in the classic Japanese tradition. By the time he retired about 15 years later, he was well-prepared and had all the time, energy, and other resources he needed to achieve his two Big Things. For him, a Big Thing was as much a vision and a process of self-discovery as it was an ultimate destination.
This is an intensely personal book in which Phyllis Korkki uses her own experiences to demonstrate the major dos and don’ts when attempting to make a Big Thing a reality. “Each person who works on a Big Thing experiences limits that can be accepted and also harnessed. Even if the limits seem negative, they can he transformed into something positive.” Innovative thinking thrives within constraints. Hopefully many people will be motivated by her example. She has provided just about all the information, insights, and counsel they need.
This book is her Big Thing so I ask you…not what’s in your wallet; rather, what’s your Big Thing?
Editor's note: This review was written by Robert Morris and has been published with his permission.Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.