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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 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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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…

Foreword

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.

Introduction

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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