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The 110% Solution.


This is Mark H. McCormack's fourth book. His first was the tremendously popular What They Don't Teach You at Harvard Business School, a book that still enjoys steady hardcover sales.

McCormack is the founder of International Management Group, a billion-dollar public-relations company that since the 1960s has helped catapult professional sports to a megaindustry.

McCormack's company has represented such stellar athletes as Arnold Palmer, Jean Claude Killy, Jackie Stewart, Ivan Lendl, and scores of others. Sports Illustrated once referred to McCormack as the "most powerful man in sports," due no doubt to his work in making millionaires of golfers and skiers. The 110% Solution, a business self-help book, is based almost entirely on McCormack's observations of what makes successful athletes so good. It is McCormack's mission to translate the secrets and methods of sports superstars for ordinary people who work in what McCormack calls the "civilian world." McCormack, that is, is offering you and me the opportunity to transform ourselves from civilians to superstars.

McCormack's complaint, and the reason he has written the book, is that, unlike the world of sports, civilian life is far too lax. We are not expected to give our all. Indeed, we can all too often get by with giving only a 50-percent or a 75-percent effort in our endeavors. Such a state of affairs would be disastrous in the sports world. Superstar athletes are so good, McCormack argues, because they are willing to give 110 percent of themselves on any given day. McCormack pleads that we should also be prepared to give 110 percent.

The 110% Solution, then, presents itself as a manual for the radical redevelopment of the individual worker. But there is something not quite right in the way McCormack would have us all become superstars. McCormack may be a tremendously successful businessman, and an otherwise engaging author, but as an entrant into the self-help game, he flagrantly misses the mark.

McCormack first tells us that we must find our genius. If this sounds remarkably like Joseph Campbell's injunction to "find your bliss," it is not uncharacteristic. So much of McCormack's rhetoric is gleaned from pop psychology and best-selling books as to be redundant. For McCormack, finding your genius simply means doing what you do best as much as you can and doing your best to make a buck doing it.

Thus, his second recommendation: Do not Stray from Your Genius: Once you know what you like to do, keep doing it. If this is beginning to sound a little pat, brace yourself; McCormack's book is riddled with cocky inspirational injunctions the likes of which haven't been handed down to us in such concentrated form since our days in the first and second grades.

McCormack has a great deal to tell us about time management. Time, we learn, is a non-renewable resource (as though we didn't know) and must be husbanded jealously. On-the-hour appointments are a serious offense, to be replaced by ones at 12:11 and 3:05 so as not to waste precious minutes between appointments. People who read newspapers on the morning train are especially bothersome. They should be reading their briefs or plotting their career advancements. All in all, there is something all too reminiscent of the Nazi stormtrooper in McCormack's zeal to transform us "civilians" into superstars. This is especially evident when McCormack tells us that our putting our families in front of our careers is yet another pathetic excuse for our not wanting to give 110 percent to our work.

To be sure, there are pleasant moments in The 110% Solution. These come in the form of anecdotes delivered by such sports greats as Dennis Connor, Billy Jean King, and Evonne Goolagong. Here we learn of the sacrifices and challenges these athletes made on their way to greatness. But McCormack's attempt to draw an analogy to the world of work is overplayed. Sports figures give their all to their sport knowing that their careers are short-lived. They can give 110 percent on the playing field because they are on that field for only a short time.

Even McCormack seems at times to sense the rigidity of his proposals. Once or twice he backs down from the more severe aspects of his vision of a workplace peopled by supercompetitors. He advises us, for instance, to use tact in all instances and to concede the upper hand if doing so will preserve valued contacts (in other words, don't run up the score). McCormack even likes the idea of nap-taking on the job, going so far as to advocate an institutionalized siesta!

What all this adds up to is a confused and vague set of proposals, admonishments, and advice. Mark H. McCormack may be the most powerful man in sports, but his 110-percent solution will undoubtedly remain mired in the little leagues.
COPYRIGHT 1991 Olympus Publishing Co.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Evans, Jeffrey
Publication:Utah Business
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Aug 1, 1991
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