Archive for March, 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 4: Wheels, Goals, and Clear Action

Chapter 5: Am I an Eagle or an Owl?


The main premise of Chapter 5 revolves around discovering and knowing yourself.  The chapter opens describing the concept of “divine discontent” which is the state of knowing we’re not really living our lives the way we want, yet we keep on doing more of the same.  We punch in on the time clock, day in, day out.  

There are three main areas we need to evaluate in ourselves in order to be successful in our careers.  

  • Skills and Abilities.  What’s interesting about this section, is the author reiterates the fact that one has to have the ability to do his job.  He then spends the rest of the section emphasizing that being able to do something isn’t enough, you have to want to do it.  
  • Personal Tendencies.  This deals more of evaluating ourselves.  Do we like dealing with people or projects?  Are we expressive or analytical?  This ties in with the skills and abilities section.  Just because someone is skilled in fixing computers, doesn’t mean they don’t aspire to be a social worker.  The author breaks down the personality traits into 4 categories:
    • Dominance  (Driver) – Lion/Eagle:  This is the boss.  The guy who likes to manage.  He’s competitive, bold, and enjoys having authority.
    • Influencing (Expressive) – Otter/Peacock:  This is the Sales Team.  They’re great talkers, impulsive, and promoters. 
    • Steadiness (Amiable) – Golden Retriever/Dove:  I equate this to the worker bees or administrative assistant.  They like routine, and they’re reliable and avoid conflicts.
    • Compliance (Analytical) – Beaver/Owl:  This is the Development team.  They’re resistant to change, like to have their facts in order, and ask questions.

There’s a link in the book to take a test to see where we fit in the mix, but I’m too cheap to pony up the $28.  If I had to guess, I’d say I’m 25% Influencing, 25% Steadiness, and 50% Compliance.  I like talking to customers but I wouldn’t say I enjoy selling.  I’m a good listener, patient, understanding, and avoid conflicts.  Finally, I think I’m logical and diplomatic but I embrace change.  So I have certain aspects of those 3.  I don’t think I’m entirely dominant.  I have some of the qualities, such as determined, competitive, etc…but I don’t believe I seek out that role.

The author then tells a short fictional story about a group of workers who were forced into jobs they weren’t most skilled at.   They force a duck to climb, a rabbit to swim, and a squirrel to run.  (You get the idea.)  In the end, they work so hard trying to be good at jobs they weren’t skilled at, it ended up hurting them in the long run for the jobs they were skilled at.  (The ducks feet were injured which prevented him from becoming a good swimmer, the squirrel got exhausted from overxerting himself, and the rabbit had a nervous breakdown from swimming.)  The point the author is making is that we should make use of the abilities in which we are skillful at.  It is better to focus on those and do them well than to try to do everything only so-s0.  

The chapter closes on the point that employers aren’t looking for generalists, they’re looking for specialists.  This really drives home the point I’ve been thinking about in myself lately.  I worry that I have decent skills in a bunch of different areas, but am not focused in detail in any one specific area.  

If I were job searching, I would need to do a better job tailoring my resume to every single application.  Moreover, my cover letters should be customized for each application.  In the letter, I would be better off listing the requirements in the job posting, and describing how I have utilized my skills in past experiences to perform the required job functions.  This shows the potential employer why I am a good fit for them.  A little off topic from the book here, but I think it complements the author’s idea.

Continue to Chapter 6: 6 Job Offers in 10 Days

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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:  Chapter 3: Creating a Life Plan 

Chapter 4: Wheels, Goals, and Clear Action

Chapter 4 starts off describing how some people have “sanctified ignorance”.  Meaning, they think God, or a course of events, will sort out life for them.  If people get up each day waiting for something to happen, they’ll keep living the way they are.  In reality, if you want something in life, you have to go out and get it.

The rest of the chapter revolves around “The Wheel of Life”.  There is an illustration of a wheel with several spokes coming from the center, which looks similar to a pie chart.  There are 7 pieces to the pie (try to picture a Trivial Pursuit game piece).  You rate each section from 1-10.  Here’s how I would rate myself:

Career:  7.  Obviously, I have a lot going on right now, but I have to say I am pleased with how far I’ve come.  I graduated from college in 2004, and got a job right out of graduation (after backpacking in Europe for 3 weeks).  Within 3 years I went through 2 promotions and doubled my salary.   With all my job title changes, I’ve been able to learn the different areas of a business, from performing training and managing implementations, ensuring customer satisfaction, conducting business analysis, holding focus groups, technical writing, project and people management.  My main concern is that I am learning a lot of different things, but am not focused in one particular area.  I believe this may become  an issue to future employers, as they are usually looking for someone with a particular specialty.  My problem is, I haven’t quite figured out what that is yet.  

Financial: 8.  I think I’m a very good saver, and I’m careful (frugal not cheap!) when it comes to spending money.  I’ll buy things at a reasonable quality for a reasonable price.  A prime example of this is the Vizio LCD HDTV I own…Vizio is a great brand, with a quality picture at a very affordable price.  Samsung and Sony’s have better quality for sure, but you pay a premium for that.  My current goals are to make sure I’m investing as efficiently as possible, and minimizing my fees and expenses.  

Social: 7.  I think I do great with friends.  If it was that alone I’d probably give myself a 9.  My biggest problem are awkward situations.  I come across instances where I know I should do one thing, I’m thinking it over in my head, and the moment passes before I’ve done anything.  ‘During an interview, maybe I should have said this…’, ‘Man I should have held the door for that lady…’, ‘I really need to start telling people on the phone to have a good weekend on Fridays…’.  I’m really bad at stuff like that, and know I need to do better, but for some reason I have trouble with it.

Family: 8.  I’m great with my immediate family.  I love events with extended family, (Family picnics, 4th of July parties, Christmas Eve).  I guess my area of improvement is, outside of those major holidays, I rarely see the extended family.  It’s always good to see them, and I actually enjoy their company.  

Physical: 9.  I work out 3-5 times a week, I try to eat healthy and get enough sleep.  I eat a little junk food here and there, but I’m probably in the best shape of my life right now.  I can run a mile in under 10 minutes (sure the book talks about how some people do it in 4), and phsyically I feel more toned than ever.

Personal Development: 6.  I need to do a better job at finding what it is I am good at that I can put to good use.  I would like to go back to school to get my MBA.  I’d like to learn as much about investing as possible.  (According to the book if I read 3 books on the topic I’m an expert!)  I just feel like I could always be learning.  I think this post is a good start, as I plan to summarize each book I read to help me retain what I have read.

Spiritual:  6.  Spirituality is a personal matter for me.  I’m Roman Catholic, and a part of me would love to go to church every Sunday.  However, I feel uncomfortable going by myself.  I’d like to learn more about the events in the Bible so I can be educated and able to hold a conversation with someone if it ever comes up.  Then maybe I’ll get some of those references on the Simpsons 🙂

The chapter then focuses on people with indecision.  It takes the side that one should go with their gut, and high acheivers have the ability to act quickly.  I suppose it can be debated on the act of making a quick decision.  The author mentions creating a process where any decision, big or small, has to be completed within a 2-week maximum time frame.  The process he mentions for solving a problem is very similar to business models taught in schools, is as follows:  

1.  State the problem.
2.  Get advice on the problem.
3.  List the alternatives.
4.  Choose the best alternative.
5.  Act

This is how meetings should be held!  The chapter ends describing the benefits of goal setting.  People who are successful set goals for themselves.  If you fail to set a goal, you have nothing to reach out for.  A good path for goal setting is to set the goal first, and then work backwards on a plan to reach the goal.  I am in agreement with this, but make sure your original goals are attainable within your timeframes.  That’ll make setting out the path easier.  

The author mentions that he spends about 2 hours a day reading or listening to things that are self help or positive.  Before reading the paper, he listens to something from Socrates, Plato, or present-day self help authors.  He no longer sets an alarm clock, because he has a program where he goes to bed at a reasonable time.  I thought this was sort of interesting, because about 2 months ago was the last time I’ve used my alarm.  So far I’ve not slept in, and have actually been to work early on a few occasions.  I’ll still use it if I go to bed later than usual or need to ensure that I get up on time, but it’s been working so far.

Continue to Chapter 5: Am I an Eagle or an Owl?

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