Archive for February, 2009


48 Days to the Work you Love by Dan Miller:  Book Review

This is a continuation of the in-depth review of the book:  48 Days to the Work You Love by Dan Miller.  To read the Previous Chapter, follow this link:  Chapter 2: The Challenge of Change

Chapter 3: Creating a Life Plan

When I finished chapter two, I skimmed the opening quote thinking nothing of it.  When I came back to read chapter three, I spent a little more time and realized once again, the chapter opens with a thought-provoking quote.

“Work is love made visible.  And if you cannot work with love but only with distaste, it is better that you should leave your work and sit at the gate of the temple and take alms of those who work with joy.  For if you bake bread with indifference, you bake a bitter bread that feeds but half man’s hunger.  And if you grudge the crushing of the grapes, your grudge distills a poison in the wine.  And if you sing though as angels, and love not the singing, you muffle man’s ears to the voices of the day and the voices of the night.  All work is empty save when there is love; and when you work with love you bind yourself to yourself, and to one another, and to God.” -Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet

If you don’t love the work you do, your effort won’t be 100%.  Even if you end up doing a great job, will you be satisfied?  Is it rewarding?  Will you be happy?

The chapter describes three words which are often mistakenly used interchangeably:  vocations, careers, and jobs.

A job is described as the activities you do daily to produce income.  A career may be described as what you do in your line of work, a means to an end perhaps.   A vocation on the other hand, is described as your calling.  Something you are inherently good at.   A vocation incorporates purpose and meaning into the work you do.

An example in the book asks three line workers at an auto plant what they do.  The first one, who views his work as a job, answers “I’m a welder-that’s what they pay me for each Friday.”  The second person, who views his work as a career, says, “I’m making a beautiful car today.”  Finally, the third person answers, “I’m helping to create innovative and responsible transportation for individuals, families, and companies.”  All three workers are doing the exact same thing, yet the third person was able to find value, purpose, and meaning in the work he does.

Later in the chapter, the author states that if we have a purpose-defined goals we want to achieve, then we can respond to priorities in life rather than circumstances.  We need to have our goals thought out for the long-term, and don’t expect to achieve them sooner by taking shortcuts.  This part of the chapter made me think of when people say, “Everything happens for a reason.”  I’m not a fan of this quote because it makes me think that we cannot control our own destiny.  Rather, I would prefer to believe, “We can find reason in everything that happens.”  Meaning, sure it stinks when something bad happens, but if we can find a reason as to why it is happening, and rise above it, then we have gained something.  The author points this out in describing how baby giraffes are born.  Shortly after they are born, they try and stand up on their own.  After successfully standing on their legs, the mother immediately knocks them over.  The baby giraffe gets up again, and the mother knocks him over again.  The mother is not doing this to torture the giraffe, but to teach him to persevere, and every time he gets knocked down, he needs to get up.

The chapter ends suggesting a paradigm shift with the goal of finding balance in all areas of life.  Too often people focus entirely on work, and neglect family, friends, personal development, and other things.  This is illustrated with a picture of the words mentioned above, with work in a much larger font in the center of the picture, and the other areas of life surrounding work in a much smaller font.  It is also explained with a quote from Shakespeare, “A man with a toothache cannot be in love.” The man is paying too much attention to his toothache to fully appreciate anything else.  In the same respect, work can be the metaphor for the toothache.  People concentrate too much of their time at work, and start to neglect their family, friends, and other areas of life.

The paradigm shift suggests treating all those areas of life equally.  This is illustrated with a new diagram with all the words describing areas of life written out in a circle in the same size.  They should all be treated equally, creating a balance.

Continue to Chapter 4:  Wheels, Goals, and Clear Action

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48 Days to the Work you Love by Dan Miller:  Book Review

This is a continuation of the in-depth review of the book:  48 Days to the Work You Love by Dan Miller.  To read the Previous Chapter, follow this link:  Introduction & Chapter 1.

Chapter 2:  The Challenge of Change

Again I enjoy reading the opening quote.

“A man of character finds a special attractiveness in difficulty, since it is only by coming to grips with difficulty that he can realize his potentialities.” -Charles De Gaulle

I personally enjoy challenges…I like walking into a department that needs some fixing, and leaving it better than when I came.

This chapter had a lot of good snippets.  One of the two main points I got out of this chapter was that you can’t stop change, therefore you should embrace it.  Secondly, if you’re not happy doing what you’re doing, change it.  A fact that was pointed out in this book that I’m hearing a lot lately, is that the average person spends about 3.2 years at one company before moving on.  Therefore, one has the potential to have 14-16 jobs in their lifetime.

To the first point, the author says “Not all change is positive growth, but all positive growth does require change.”  If someone wants to take a step in the right direction, they’re going to have to change some aspect of their lives.

To the second point, he tells a short story of how a neighbor saw an old dog lying on the front porch, softly moaning.  When he asked the owner why the dog was moaning, the owner told the neighbor he was sitting on a nail.  The neighbor asked the owner why the dog didn’t move, to which the neighbor replied, “I guess it doesn’t hurt quite that much yet.”  I was kind of reminded of the movie “Goodfellas” while reading this part of the chapter.  In the movie, Ray Liotta just can’t accept a normal, mediocre, boring life.  He had to have excitement.  So, for better or for worse, he changed his life.  (I guess I should have thought of a better example, but you get the point!)

The chapter ends with some very poignant career questions and answers.  The author actually advises against staying with one company and climbing the ladder.  He believes a vertical rise within one company will move one away from their strongest areas of competence.  Another question was “How can I keep my job from controlling my life?” and I really liked the response here, which was, “Decide what kind of life you want, then plan your work around that life.  Make sure you build in balanced priorities….Move away from the idea that more time equals more success.  If you are working more than 45 to 50 hours a week in your job, you are limiting success in some other areas of your life.”  I see this in some people.  They are so consumed with work, that they forget about friends and family.  I am a big fan of striking a balance between work, leisure, family, friends, money, and happiness.


Continue to Chapter 3:  Creating a Life Plan

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48 Days to the Work you Love by Dan Miller:  Book Review

As you can see from my previous posts, I am in the middle of a very rigorous search.  I listen to Dave Ramsey’s podcast and he recommends this book quite often, so I thought I’d give it a read.  I thought I would also use this blog to highlight some of the important parts of the book.  I’m doing this more as a reminder for myself so I can review parts I thought were important when I was reading it.  So here goes…


The foreword was written by Dave Ramsey.  He explains how the difference between successful people and unsuccessful people is not that successful people were perfect, but rather they made mistakes in the process and were able to rise above them.


Work is defined as ‘purposeful activity’.   In other terms, work should be something you do in life that serves some sort of purpose.  By definition, those who hate their jobs aren’t considered to be ‘working’ because what they are doing isn’t purposeful.   The author then goes on to explain his upbringing briefly.  He was raised on a farm where it was expected you work 7 days a week.  The author references a lot of passages from the Bible that describe how work should be enjoyed.  Finally, he points out that a lot of key events in the Bible revolved around 40 days (Noah’s Ark, Moses spending time on Mount Sinai, David and Goliath, etc).  He decides to give us 48 days, giving us 8 free days to further help us create our plan.  And so the journey begins!

Chapter 1:  What is Work?

I love the quote that opens the chapter.

“The master in the art of living makes little distinction between his work and his play, his labor and his leisure, his mind and his body, his information and his recreation, his love and his religion.  He hardly knows which is which.  He simply pursues his vision of excellence at whatever he does, leaving others to decide whether he is working or playing.  To him he is always doing both.” – James Michener

The chapter then explains how dictionaries define work and play as contrasting terms.  Instead of seeing them as separate things, we should find a job we actually enjoy doing.  In the end of the chapter he makes a lot of good points why it’s not always good to try to get the highest paying job, or look for the job with the most security, or find the job in the highest demand.  High paying jobs cause burnout, what’s secure today won’t be secure tomorrow, and jobs in high demand can be obsolete in the future.  Rather, ask better questions like what do you enjoy doing…what do you find yourself drawn to?



Continue to Chapter 2:  The Challenge of  Change

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In some of my upcoming posts, I am going to start reviewing some books I read.  I’m a slow reader so they won’t be frequent, but will hopefully be a good in depth recap.  One of my reasons for doing this is selfish.  I think that when reading non-fiction books, I may find them ‘too easy to relate to’ or say to myself ‘oh I already do that’ and breeze through certain points.  Or I may think a book is great at the time, and forget about it once I move onto the next one.   By recapping the book as I read it, I think it’ll help me retain some of the important points found within the book.

I was thinking of maybe using Google Notebook or Microsoft OneNote to track my recaps, but then I realized if I blog about it they may be beneficial for others if they’re considering reading the book.  

I’m still debating the format of the reviews though.  The two options I’m considering are separate posts for chapters or parts of the book, or recapping the book in one long post.  Here are my pros and cons of both approaches:

Separate Posts for each Chapter or Section of Book

  • Pro:  Each post is shorter in length.  Some people (myself included) look at long posts and skim through them.  If the post is shorter, I usually read the entire thing.  Recaps can be posted as I read the book.
  • Con:  Posts might get ‘lost in the shuffle’ and become disorganized.  Users who don’t mind reading ‘longer’ posts will have to click through the posts to get the overall picture.

Each Review Contained in Single Post

  • Pro:  Each review is cleanly organized in one post.  They’re easier to find and read.
  • Con:  People may see the long post and skim through it, catching only certain points.   I will have to finish the book before a review is posted.

I’m leaning more towards putting the reviews in one single post.  That way they’ll be more cleanly organized.  If people don’t want want to read the entire review, that’s their choice.

Process for Remembering Good Points While Reading

I keep every book I read.  I envision living in this large house someday that has a room dedicated to just books.  The library will have shelves surrounding the walls with all my books organized by genre, author, etc (having quite figured that part out yet, but since I’m OCD about organizing media I’m sure there will be some sort of system).  I also like to keep my books is good condition, so I don’t like bending or marking them up.  So, I’ve thought of a good solution that will allow me to keep track of good points as I read.

As I’m reading the book, I have these mini post-it notes by my side, similar to the slimmer ones found here.    

Staples Post-It

Staples Post-It

If I think a brief section of the book is a point I want to reference in my post, I stick the post-it length-wise across the page and keep reading.  If think an entire paragraph is a good point, I stick the post-it vertically so it covers the point I want to reference and keep reading.  That way, I don’t lose my train of thought, and won’t forget to reference something I thought was important later on.

When I’m done with the chapter, I then start organizing my thoughts of what I thought overall, and go to my first post-it.  After I make sure I document it properly, I put the post-it aside.  I’ll re-use the post-its until they lose their ‘sticky’ factor.  I think this is a good method for keeping track of points you want to make while keeping you engaged with what the chapter so you don’t lose your train of thought.  

So that’s that.  Expect my first review in a few weeks.

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