Book Review: The Art Of Work

The Art of Work: A Proven Path To Discovering What You Were Meant To Do, by Jeff Goins

[Note: This book was provided free of charge by BookLook/Thomas Nelson Publishers in exchange for an honest review.]

In this book, the author, himself a young man, seeks to use his own story and those of others as a way of providing credibility to his answer as to how we can recognize our calling. As this is a subject of considerable concern for many people [1], the book does a good job at providing a sensible and practical way for discovering one’s purpose in life. That said, it is not straightforward and easy to determine. Then again, as most of us live messy lives, it should not be any surprise that discovering our life’s purpose can also be messy and complicated. This is even more so because the author strongly suggests that it is not a fixed purpose, but at least potentially a seasonal one, or a combination of different purposes. While this would blend with my own experiences, it is hardly a comforting reflection.

Like many other writers, the author has a straightforward seven-step process by which we can reliably know our purpose in life. The first three steps come under the heading of preparation: listening to your life and taking account of what has come before, finding mentors [2], and practicing even when it is painful and unpleasant. The second part emphasizes action: building bridges rather than seeking massive leaps, pivoting from failure to success by remaining flexible in one’s approach, and having a portfolio mastery that includes a few key areas of skill and focus in different areas of life to create overall balance. The final chapters deal with legacy and the fact that no matter how much one achieves, one’s life will never be fully resolved and one’s purpose will always have to be passed on to someone else to carry onward in one’s stead. We are all involved in work that is greater than ourselves.

Somewhat alarmingly, perhaps, this book describes my own life and my own approach to developing my talents and abilities. I have long sought to find the purpose in my life’s path, even where that has been messy and complicated. I have sought mentors, developed a portfolio of diverse but well-mastered gifts, worked and practiced hard even when it has not always been fun, and sought to tackle large and massive problems that are far too big for me alone. Perhaps that means that against all odds I am well on my way to living a meaningful and successful life, despite my irritation at the lack of progress in certain key areas of life. Perhaps of greatest encouragement for me, and for others in my position, is that the times of wilderness and seeming lack of progress are not what they appear, but essential elements in success. I can only hope so. This is a good book, and a fairly short one at 200 pages. Despite the fact that it is written by someone still towards the beginning of his work life, it offers some profound lessons, although no easy answers.

[1] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2012/04/18/book-review-mans-search-for-meaning/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2015/01/09/book-review-five-minutes-on-monday/

[2] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2014/03/25/book-review-building-a-ministry-of-spiritual-mentoring/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2011/01/24/super-bowl-mentoring/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2015/03/09/be-a-mentor/

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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