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Finding 42


In the book “Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy” by Douglas Adams a super computer, Deep Thought, is constructed specifically to compute “the answer” to the question of “life, the universe, and everything”. After 7.5 million years Deep Thought, to great disappointment, announces the answer is “42” and then goes on to state the problem is that they didn’t really understand the question.




I listened as a child and teenager to this Hitchhiker trilogy over and over with my father on road trips up and down the east coast of Australia. The story fascinated me and many moments of Adams philosophy, likely accidental philosophy that fell out of humour, stick with me but none more so than “42” which has pervaded my life ever since.




Charging forward without understanding the question, the goal, the purpose has been all around me. It's normal in our busy lives to move ahead without taking the time, or having the time, to think about the ‘why’. I see coaching as a path to helping people find, and understand, their question and with that be able to forge ahead with a deeper sense of self and develop great satisfaction while producing meaningful outcomes.




I had originally planned to call my coaching business "Finding 42". However after frequently needing to explain the meaning, of the name, not life the universe and everything, I have moved on. 42 still features within much of what I do.




-- 101010 --




“O Deep Thought computer," he said, "the task we have designed you to perform is this. We want you to tell us...." he paused, "The Answer."


"The Answer?" said Deep Thought. "The Answer to what?"


"Life!" urged Fook.


"The Universe!" said Lunkwill.


"Everything!" they said in chorus.


Deep Thought paused for a moment's reflection.


"Tricky," he said finally.


"But can you do it?"


Again, a significant pause.


"Yes," said Deep Thought, "I can do it."


"There is an answer?" said Fook with breathless excitement.


"Yes," said Deep Thought. "Life, the Universe, and Everything. There is an answer. But, I'll have to think about it."


...


Fook glanced impatiently at his watch.


“How long?” he said.


“Seven and a half million years,” said Deep Thought.


Lunkwill and Fook blinked at each other.


“Seven and a half million years...!” they cried in chorus.


“Yes,” declaimed Deep Thought, “I said I’d have to think about it, didn’t I?"




[Seven and a half million years later.... Fook and Lunkwill are long gone, but their descendents continue what they started]




"We are the ones who will hear," said Phouchg, "the answer to the great question of Life....!"


"The Universe...!" said Loonquawl.


"And Everything...!"


"Shhh," said Loonquawl with a slight gesture. "I think Deep Thought is preparing to speak!"


There was a moment's expectant pause while panels slowly came to life on the front of the console. Lights flashed on and off experimentally and settled down into a businesslike pattern. A soft low hum came from the communication channel.




"Good Morning," said Deep Thought at last.


"Er..good morning, O Deep Thought" said Loonquawl nervously, "do you have...er, that is..."


"An Answer for you?" interrupted Deep Thought majestically. "Yes, I have."


The two men shivered with expectancy. Their waiting had not been in vain.


"There really is one?" breathed Phouchg.


"There really is one," confirmed Deep Thought.


"To Everything? To the great Question of Life, the Universe and everything?"


"Yes."


Both of the men had been trained for this moment, their lives had been a preparation for it, they had been selected at birth as those who would witness the answer, but even so they found themselves gasping and squirming like excited children.


"And you're ready to give it to us?" urged Loonsuawl.


"I am."


"Now?"


"Now," said Deep Thought.


They both licked their dry lips.


"Though I don't think," added Deep Thought. "that you're going to like it."


"Doesn't matter!" said Phouchg. "We must know it! Now!"


"Now?" inquired Deep Thought.


"Yes! Now..."


"All right," said the computer, and settled into silence again. The two men fidgeted. The tension was unbearable.


"You're really not going to like it," observed Deep Thought.


"Tell us!"


"All right," said Deep Thought. "The Answer to the Great Question..."


"Yes..!"


"Of Life, the Universe and Everything..." said Deep Thought.


"Yes...!"


"Is..." said Deep Thought, and paused.


"Yes...!"


"Is..."


"Yes...!!!...?"


"Forty-two," said Deep Thought, with infinite majesty and calm.”




“Forty-two!" yelled Loonquawl. "Is that all you've got to show for seven and a half million years' work?"


"I checked it very thoroughly," said the computer, "and that quite definitely is the answer. I think the problem, to be quite honest with you, is that you've never actually known what the question is.”






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