Tasmanian author, entrepreneur, digital guru and all-round life enthusiast Polly McGee has secured a deal for her second book, due to come out in February 2018.
A break-away from her debut fiction novel, Dogs of India, The Good Hustle is a how-to book that brings together two of McGee’s big passions; start-ups and yoga.
“Dogs of India was probably more the anomaly because I never thought I would write a [fiction] novel,” she said.
“Anyone who’s ever heard me talk about Dogs of India before would know I very much felt that novel wrote me and I was just here helping it out.”
The Good Hustle is more in line with what McGee always thought she would write; a business book and a business book for women, her two “pet treasures”.
“It’s really talking about a thing that occupies a lot of us,” she said.
“We all think about work, what we’re going to do having meaning in our lives, but really the big question is ‘What is the purpose of this life?’.
“If it’s just to get up and to service a mortgage and to manage the logistics of children and their schooling or whatever it is, many people really get to a point where they question what it all means.”
McGee said The Good Hustle allows people to answer that question, which is a personal journey of discovery for everyone, by providing some tools to “understand why you are where you are why what happens around you happens.”
The book sprouted in 2016, when McGee spent a period of time studying and practicing yoga and meditation.
“I was really thinking about the philosophical learnings that we were going through with yoga,” she said.
“I think because of who I am and my background in entrepreneurship I had this really strong flash that the path to enlightenment, as it was stepped out in Patanjali's yoga sutras, was very similar to being an entrepreneur and getting a start up going.
“You had to go through all these levels of trial by fire, you had to go through all these moments of really deep self reflection to be able to get to the point where your product was launched.”
She took the idea to her publisher, and after convincing them she really should be writing a non-fiction instead of another novel, began the journey of laying down the book.
McGee said she wants it to be an instruction manual, which rather than saying “here are the lofty ideals of what this should be like” actually steps people through the process - showing them what the hard work looks like, but without being a formulaic box ticking exercise.
“It’s one thing to be all caught up in the passion or excitement of discovering what you want to do in the world and it's another thing to actually have the tools to make sure that you do it,” she said.
“It’s about saying, ‘Okay let’s get your mind ready first, let’s get you in a state where you’re really clear on what you're doing and who you are’ … Anything's possible after that because you're always your own worst enemy.”
The book outlines an idea McGee champions; that work can, and should, be meaningful.
“I wanted to start telling a story about how work can be really deeply satisfying,” she said.
“This book asks people to think about business not so much as ‘Well what am I going to do with my life’, what it asks you to do is say ‘Who am I going to serve? Who am I drawn to serve in the world and how do I identify that group?’.
“That’s going to give me some clues, that’s crumbs along the path that I can follow, as to what makes me feel that I am able to infuse my life with meaning, because I’m doing something bigger than me in a world that I’m drawn to.”
McGee thinks the book also speaks to those who haven’t yet discovered what their passion is.
“It also addresses a group of people, which I think is probably a really big group of people (and I think I probably fell into this category), that have never known what they wanted to do,” she said.
“They have always known that they wanted to do something, if you’re like me you have an understanding of what that feels like, but you couldn’t put words around it and you couldnt say ‘I want to be a this’ or ‘I want to be a that’.
“That has been a source of endless frustration to me and so many of the self-help books that came out they assume that you can articulate your passion and therefore be able to pursue it.
“This idea that if you don’t know you're somehow a bit hopeless, because if anyone should know your passion it's you, that really troubled me.”
McGee said she spent a lot of time constantly doing things and going from one to the other thinking, “‘This is going to be the one!’ and really racing in … and then realising that it’s more emporers new clothes and that I was the same person, with the same lack of knowing.”
The process of spending a to of time meditating and practicing yoga has made McGee more comfortable with not knowing.
“It’s about knowing that when you see the clues and you see the paths that have got curiosity lit large on them you need to go down them,” she said.
“You don’t need to know why you're going down them you just need to know that it's okay to go down it.”
McGee is hoping the book will be a transformative one for those who read it.
“What I want is for people to not put it down and feel like the hope only lasted as long as the text, that by reading the book there is a lasting sense of the capacity to embrace and live in turbulent times,” she said.
The book will be published by Murdoch Books, and in shops in February “ready to make good on all those New Years resolutions”.