When I started reading The Next Level: A Parable About Finding Your Place in Life by David Gregory, I was immediately intrigued and knew it would make a great blog post. I know this book could be interpreted in different ways, but I want to give you my take on it, although I know I won't be covering everything that could be covered. I decided to work through the whole book, so if it's something you want to read, you may want to do so before reading this. Also, due to the length I have divided it into two parts, the second of which I will be posting in a few days.
The Next Level tells the story of Logan Bell, who goes to apply for a job at Universal Systems Inc., a large prominent software company. He's surprised when the receptionist immediately sends him up to see the Director, the CEO of the company. On his way up, he takes notice of the size of the building, which consists of five levels. Once he reaches the Director's desk, he's given an informal interview and hired on the spot as an organizational development analyst (OD).
Logan's job is quite simple. He is required to begin working on the first level of the building and analyze what the major problem is on that level. Once he has completed this assignment, he will be moved up to the next level, and if he manages to complete the first four levels, he will have the option of joining the Director himself on the fifth floor.
On the first level Logan meets some interesting people to say the least. After several weeks of meetings and observations, he notes that employees are not working together towards common goals and they lack creativity. On one occasion, he goes around to each employee on the floor to find out what they are doing at that given moment. He discovers that each individual is doing something personal and are not actually doing anything work-related. They're all busy accomplishing nothing.
When Logan goes up to see the Director, he asks him why the owner just lets everyone go on doing their own thing when it results in great loss for the company. He explains that the Shareholder (the owner of the company, who you later discover to be the Director's father) chooses to give each individual the freedom to decide whether or not to work towards the goals and profit of the company. Logan is saddened by the lack of accomplishment and happiness among the people of Level One, to which the Director responds, "That's what happens when we become self-focused, isn't it? Life loses it's meaning."
When Logan reaches Level Two, it doesn't take him long to diagnose the problem when he's handed a Code of Conduct that might as well have been an encyclopaedia. On this level, the main focus is integrity and there are very specific rules and regulations about everything, including the kind and number of pieces of candy allowed and the brand of furniture polish permitted. Some of the specifications are rather amusing. All violations are carefully tracked and disciplinary measures are taken. Logan observes that in this level's efforts to be good, they aren't actually doing any good, with the exception of one department. He notices that they're so caught up in their rules and being people of integrity that they don't actually get anything done to benefit the company. In all reality, they're missing the whole point.
By the time Logan reaches Level Three, I started noticing an interesting trend. Each employee had the option of moving to a different level at any time, but nobody chose to. They each believed that their level's way of doing things was the best and they were quick to point out what was wrong with the methods of other levels. Sounds a lot like us Christians sometimes, doesn't it? We always believe that our way of doing things or set of beliefs is right and we're quick to criticize everybody else. And you know, sometimes we may be right but we don't always need to say so.
This seems to be a suitable break-point to somewhat evenly divide my two sections and to make things flow properly, although the next portion is longer. Be sure to watch for Part 2 within the next few days to find out what Logan discovers on the next few levels. They're the most intriguing ones. God bless!