The Art of Work

"Don't settle for the status quo. Live a life that matters."

- The Art of Work, back cover

The subtitle of this book is “a proven path to discovering what you were meant to do.” Have you ever asked the question “What should I do with my life?” This book attempts to assist the reader in answering that question and to assist in finding one’s calling.

Each of us should always be cognizant of what we can do versus what we cannot do. The path to one’s life work is difficult and risky, even scary, which is why few finish the journey. This is a book about discovering our life’s work – that treasure of immeasurable worth we all long for. It’s about the task we were born to do. As Jeff Goins explains, the search begins with passion but does not end there. Only when our interests connect with the needs of the world do we begin to live for a larger purpose. Those who experience this intersection experience something exceptional and enviable. Though it is rare, such a life is attainable by anyone brave enough to try. Through personal experience, compelling case studies, and current research on the mysteries of motivation and talent, Jeff shows readers how to find their vocation and what to expect along the way.

The Golden Egg

Golden Egg: The biggest takeaway from the book

The Ultimate Intersection

"Discovering your calling is not an epiphany, but a series of intentional decisions. It looks less like a giant leap and more like building a bridge."
- The Art of Work, page 87

A great axiom used in our world today is to find the intersection of what you love and what the world needs. This has played out recently in my organization where a project that needed more organization and better management was identified. Initially, when asked to lead this project, I really struggled with getting involved. I almost missed an opportunity. By listening to the advice of others and making the decision to apply my skills in this situation both the organization and I are reaping the benefits. Over time, I have discovered my love for research, organization, planning and implementation. Now I’ve been given the chance to take the skills I love and apply them to a project that needs them. This creates the proverbial win-win situation. I get to do some of the things I enjoy, and the organization benefits from having a more efficiently managed project.

Gem #1

An actionable way to implement the BIG takeaway (Golden Egg) into your life

Making Lemonade from Lemons

"Your calling is not always easy. It will take work. Practice can teach you what you are and are not meant to do."
- The Art of Work, page 57

Think back on an experience in your life when you worked at something but ultimately learned that it was not for you. One such experience for me was when my parents wished to instill in me their enjoyment of instrumental music and insisted that I take piano and trombone lessons. During the years that I was forced to take music lessons, it certainly felt like hard work. Musical practice did not yield melodious perfection in my case, however. It rather confirmed for me that ivory keys and gilded brass were meant for someone else. Ultimately, I quit playing the piano and actually threw my trombone in a trash dumpster when I moved away from home.

Conversely, I was not taught or encouraged to manage money while growing up. After leaving home, I became interested in successful financial principles and how to apply them in my life. Fortunately, I found a mentor who taught and encouraged me in this area. To this day I enjoy managing money and I am reaping the benefits of doing so.

Gem #2

An actionable way to implement the BIG takeaway (Golden Egg) into your life

Generalist or Specialist?

"Your calling is not just one thing; it's a few things. The trick is not to be a jack of all trades, but to become a master of some."
- The Art of Work, page 133

One of the stated objectives for employee development in the organization I work for is to make everyone a generalist, not a specialist. This, in my opinion, is a mistake. Experience has taught me that the more complex the process the more important it is to have specialists working it. Who would you choose to perform a delicate surgery on your brain – a general family physician or a specialized neurosurgeon? The reality is that most of us are hardwired for a handful of activities and are not really good at a broad spectrum of things.

When we look at our lives in general there are some key areas that we need to focus on specifically. These include our work, our relationships, and how we recreate. All of these involve our purpose or what we are meant to do. Don’t we want to know our time on earth has meant something? We are called to higher purposes than self-gratifying activities. We are called to invest in others; long-term, as we pour into the lives of our loved ones, or just for a season as we contribute to those who briefly cross our path.

Jeff reminds us that our individual calling is more than a career; it is a life well lived. As stated above, our calling touches the various areas of life – work, family, and recreation. Our calling is not a destination; it is a journey that does not end until we pass from this earth. In the end, success is not so much about what we do or accomplish during our life as much as it is about the legacy we leave behind. What is your legacy?

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Barak Strickland

ABOUT Barak Strickland

Barak Strickland is a project manager who holds certifications in program management and lifecycle logistics from the USAF. He has been planning, organizing, and completing projects professionally since 1981, when he joined the USAF...
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