28 September, 2011

The Present by Spencer Johnson

Summarised by Radhakrishnan. C

This time I am planning to introduce to you ‘The Present – The Secret to Enjoying your Work and Life, Now!’ by Spencer Johnson, the author of ‘Who Moved My Cheese?’ Here is the brief summary. In no way I want to review the book. You get the book, read and apply it in your life to enjoy the beauty of the present.

The Summary of The Present

The fable itself concerns the story of a boy and a “wise old man”, who tells the boy about something called “The Present” which he says the boy will find to be the most valuable gift of all. The old man observes the boy fully engaged in cutting grass. When the boy asks about The Present and how could he get it, he is told that it is so wonderful and would make him happier and more successful than anything else he could receive. As the boy grows into his teens, he keeps wondering about how and where he can find The Present. The old man tells him he already knows and points out how engaged he was when he was cutting the grass. The boy doesn’t understand and the old man tells him that The Present is a gift we have to give to ourselves.

As the boy grows into a young man he abandons the search for The Present, and he begins running into problems at work and in his personal life. When he is passed over for a promotion at work, he goes to see the old man who advises him to spend some time in the mountains and to reflect on times when he was most happy. As he is sitting in front of a fireplace in the cabin in the mountains, he notices how well made it is, by a craftsman who must have been as engaged as he was when he was cutting the grass. Suddenly in a rush, it hits him: he realises he was living in The Present. The Present means focusing on what is happening right now.

Flush with his discovery, he returns to work with new energy and enthusiasm, and for a time he prospers as he is more engaged than ever before. But after a while, a female colleague lets him down by not doing her share of a common task and his performance suffers as he tries vainly to fill the gap. His passion and commitment catches the attention of his boss, and he meets a wonderful woman with whom he is developing “a great relationship”. Under attack from his boss, he returns to see the old man who advises him that there was another element to living in The Present: learn from the past. He returns to work, confronts his colleague and resolves the problem, and once again moves forward happily in his work.

He is promoted in his job to a new position and does well for a while until he is overwhelmed as a result of attempting too many tasks and wasting time on things that are not important. He consults the old man again and is advised that there is a third element to living in The Present: plan for the future. The young man starts planning his day, his week, his month, and once again finds that he is able to resolve his problems. At a budget meeting, when the firm is considering cutting out R&D for at least a year, the young man is able to point out this was short-sighted, since the quality of the firm’s products is already in questions. Later in the week, he is able to paint a picture of what a brighter future for the firm would look like, and indeed, in due course, one of the products developed is hugely successful (page 70).

As the younger man grows into maturity, suddenly the older man dies. This causes the younger man to reflect on his life and conclude that the older man had an element that he lacks – a purpose. He realizes now that this is the final element: It is only when you Live with Purpose that life lived in The Present has meaning.

The younger man decides that his purpose would be helping others discover what he had learned about The Present.

Over the years, the man uses what he has learned over and over again. He advances to become the head of his company and is admired by all around him. Why? He listens better than others and is able to anticipate and solve problems. He has a loving family. And he enjoys sharing The Present with others. He hands out cards with “The Present” written on it to everyone he meets and tells them the story. Eventually, he becomes an old man and as the story ends, he is telling a young girl about … The Present.

The frame story

The fable is nested inside a frame story which begins with a conversation between Bill Green, a busy executive, and Liz Green, a troubled young manager. Although Liz has received promotions, she isn’t enjoying her work as much, but is under stress from trying to do more with less. Bill tells her that he solved similar problems through a story called The Present. She is amazed that a simple story could do so much and begs to hear it. Bill assures her that there is a great deal more to the story than he had anticipated.

After Bill tells the story of The Present, Liz says, “I needed that.” She has been taking “many notes” on what she heard and then she leaves without much discussion.

After an unspecified period, Bill and Liz have lunch again, and now Liz looks refreshed, rather than tired or anxious. She reports that she is now learning from the past, and is also open to the future, instead of resisting her boss’s idea developing a new marketing plan.

She finds herself giving more attention to her son when he needs her and it makes both of them happy.

She also tells the story of The Present to her staff with astoundingly successful results. One salesman finds that by asking himself what his purpose is enables him to realize that meeting a sales quota is not as important as serving his customers’ needs. When he focuses fully on his customers and their needs, then amazing results just come on their own.

It also enables a friend to deal with an awful divorce by realizing that she has not been living in The Present.

It also facilitates a discussion between Liz and her husband about personal finances. By planning for the future, they are able to solve problems they had never been able to solve before.

When she tells the story of the The Present, Liz admits that not everyone “gets it”, but for most people The Present makes an incredible difference. And the more people in a group use it, the greater the benefit. Liz says she plans to have as many people in her firm use it as soon as possible. She tells Bill that for her The Present has changed everything.

If you feel good go and get the book from the nearest seller or buy online.

For your Success and Glory!

Read, Learn and Flourish!