Given this book is now coming up for twelve years old, I found Handy's ideas remarkably relevant to current issues in the world of work.
After a rather complex presentation of life's paradoxes, such as the paradox of time (we never seem to have enough, yet more is available to us than our predecessors - we live longer and have gadgets to help us make and do things), he gets to the book's core concepts.
The Sigmoid Curve is the best career management advice I have ever come across - recognise where you are on the first S-curve of your career and plan for the second before the first goes into decline. In today's fluid employment market that is more relevant now than ever.
The Doughnut Principle is a thought-provoking examination of work life balance. With the finite amount of time you have represented by the outer circle, the amount of time you devote to work is the inner circle - how thick do you want your doughnut to be?
And the Chinese Contract is about the contracts we make with ourselves and others - are they equitable or are we being selfish?
From here the book gets very philosophical, with Handy musing on the future of society, corporations and government. I found this section of the book less engaging, but interesting nonetheless.
The book's theme is inspired by a statue in Minneapolis that provided the title - are we just `empty raincoats' - units of labour and intellect - a cog in a corporate machine? Or is there someone of substance to fill the raincoat with meaning and purpose that goes beyond work?
If, like me, you're mid-career, young family, thinking about what the future holds, this is a really good book to read.