Book Review: The Mechanic Meets the Gardener

The Mechanic Meets the Gardener is a delightful, accessible study of the relationship between the rational mind and intuitive mind. Author Susan M. Gallant’s conversational tone allows the reader to internalize the message and make the most of it.

Gallant begins her discussion with an explanation with the differing worldviews of the Mechanic and the Gardener. The Mechanic’s worldview is based in what can be objectively known. The Mechanic draws a linear path between cause and effect, and looks at all problems in terms of the parts involved. The Gardener’s worldview is more holistic, questioning what we think is objectively known and embracing what is not. To the Gardener, the world is not a linear path of cause and effect but an interlocking web. Gallant asserts that both worldviews have value, but that modern Western culture has fundamentally embraced the Mechanic and ignored the Gardener. The goal of this book is to reconnect the two.

Gallant touches on the subject of inattentional blindness and its relationship to how people view the world. Inattentional blindness is the concept that, when an object or event is so ridiculously out of context or beyond the realm of our rational expectations, the mind simply ignores it and doesn’t see it. (the proverbial gorilla on the basketball court). This blindness has a usefulness in that it helps the Mechanic focus on a task or process, but also limits the Mechanic’s ability to consider alternatives.

Unlike many self-help books that aim to help the reader chance his or her perspective, Gallant avoids the touchy-feeling happy-talk of “positive thinking” per se and instead talks about the importance of differentiating wants from intentions. Most self help books focus on helping people get what they want. But Gallant’s point is that wants are often distractions that mask unmet needs, and that instead of allowing the Mechanic to focus on wants, an individual should allow the Gardener to focus on intentions. In this regard, she walks the reader through a process to help identify the core operating beliefs that prevent you from achieving the desired result.

To provide perspective, the Mechanic would say “I want to be able to wear a swimsuit this summer” and focus on the want of losing enough weight to look good in a swimsuit. The Gardener would instead say “I intend to live a healthier lifestyle to live a fuller life” and focus on taking steps toward a holistic approach to food.

The one issue that created a knee-jerk negative feeling for me is the presence of the TM mark whenever Gallant talks about her 7-Step Tuning Process(tm) that makes up much of the book. I just felt jarring to come across this blatant show of “The Mechanic” in a book dedicated to helping us connect with the Gardener.

Leave a Reply