Body of Work

“Your body of work is everything you create, contribute, affect, and impact… Individuals who structure their careers around autonomy, mastery, and purpose will have a powerful body of work.”

- Body of Work, page 7

Pamela Slim’s Body of Work is a far-reaching, soul-searching workbook. Designed to help you delve into your personal history, this book gives you the tools you need to clarify what is important to you, what you have created over the course of your life, and how everything ties together to build your legacy. Each chapter includes extensive exercises to help you identify the common thread that defines your life, such as:

  • Define Your Roots – List your values and beliefs, who you care about, problems you want to solve, and why?
  • Name Your Ingredients – List your skills, roles, strengths, experience, and scars. Which of these are you most proud of and why?
  • Choose Your Work Mode – Evaluate the way you work now and the way you would like to work. List the rules, how to get hired, and how to be successful for each.
  • Create and Innovate – Define what you want to create, who is it for, how does it get done, how do you structure it, and when must it be completed?
  • Surf the Fear – Describe what you’re afraid of and why, what you need to do to reduce the fear.
  • Collaborate – Identify your network of people who will hold you accountable, challenge your thinking, balance your strengths, remind you of your true path, and motivate you.

Your Definition of Success – Incorporate your roots, ingredients, work mode, creativity, relationships, and quality of life.

The Big Idea

The Big Idea: The biggest takeaway from the book

Share Your Story

"No matter how wonderful and fulfilling your body of work is, if you want people to believe in it, act on it, be moved by it, or buy it, you must shape it into a cohesive narrative and tell powerful stories."
- Body of Work, page 185

Telling your story is the most valuable thing you can do for your career, and it requires a serious examination of your ideals, strengths, weaknesses, goals, and accomplishments. All of the activities and exercises that comprise Body of Work lead toward a final exercise – defining your narrative.

Slim provides a powerful method for tying the threads of your life into a compelling story. The Persuasive Story Pattern creates a dramatic narrative:

  • Craft the beginning – “Set a baseline of what is then introduce your vision of what could be.”
  • Develop the middle – Play up the “contrast between what is and what could be.”
  • Make the ending powerful – Include an inspiriting “call to action” and then describe “the new bliss: how much better their world will be when they adopt your ideas.”

By using the Persuasive Story Pattern, your passions and experience create a powerful motivation to your audience.

Insight #1

An actionable way to implement the Big Idea into your life

Choose Your Work Mode

"Learning about different work modes will give you more stability and a wider variety of options in an increasingly uncertain global economy."
- Body of Work, page 55

The 21st century has brought a massive change in how we work. The structures that defined the previous century have shifted dramatically and changed how we connect with employers, customers, and colleagues. It’s not surprising that many of us need to expand our comfort zones to create a healthy work-life balance.

Body of Work provides a “loathing scale” to help us determine when it’s time to leave our jobs or modify how we work within them. Slim provides a sliding 0-10 scale:

  • The Chill Range: 1-4 – you are comfortable but not challenged
  • The Angst Range: 5-8 – you feel high levels of annoyance or stress when you head to work
  • The Run-Screaming Range: 9-10 – your work is making you physically ill, including a variety of stress-related illnesses

Insight #2

An actionable way to implement the Big Idea into your life

Your Definition of Success

"Your definition of success will drive who you serve and what you create, but, most important, how you feel while you are creating it."
- Body of Work, page 174

Determining what success means for you, personally, is one of the most difficult tasks Slim gives us in her book. Her Success Framework incorporates

  • Your roots
  • Your ingredients
  • How you handle fear and doubt
  • Your work mode
  • Your creation
  • Your quality of life
  • Your relationships and collaborations
  • Your emotional well-being

It’s a complex, and highly personal definition, that requires honestly accepting what you truly value and letting go of the expectations others (or society) has foisted upon you.

Viewing one’s success through someone else’s lens creates “success dysmorphia,” when you feel “awkward, ugly, less than, and not quite on par with [others’] accomplishments.” And while Pamela Slim includes dozens of definitions of success from a wide variety of individuals, she reminds us, again, “there is no right answer. There is only the answer that deeply resonates with you.”

Body of Work turned out to be a rather timely read for me. In December 2013, after more than a year in an extremely difficult job, I found myself saying “enough.” I called upon my mentor, who asked some tough questions – many of them the same questions Pamela Slim asks in her book.  And on a flight for a job interview, I dug into Body of Work, defining for myself what I needed in my career, identifying many of the threads that define my story. I believe it was this clarity that helped me land a new job and which has brought a lightness of spirit and sense of joy to my career.

Can you identify the threads that tie your story together? Have you created a compelling narrative to define your body of work and your place in the world? What does success look like for you? Is it different from what you expected it to be?

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Jennifer Knighton

ABOUT Jennifer Knighton

WHO ARE YOU? I'm a wife, a daughter, a sister, a friend. I'm a saleswoman, a rain-maker, a dragon-slayer. I like shoes, handbags, a cold gin & tonic on a hot summer day...
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