Book Review: 48 Days To The Work You Love

48 Days To The Work You Love, by Dan Miller

What was it about this book precisely that gave me such a visceral dislike for its tone and the approach of its author?  Was it the constant namechecking of similar motivational works by such people as Zig Zigler or Jim Rohn or its constant irritating salesy approach that seemed to insult some people for being geeks while continually engaging in anti-intellectual tirades while paradoxically defending the importance of continual personal development and self-education?  Did the book go sour nearly at the beginning when the author sought to invite some unfortunate neologisms like horking for working around the house or volking for volunteering at church (8).  Did the author appear to be trying a bit too hard to convince himself that he was such a shrewd authority in self-help, or to disguise the essentially harsh tone of his writing by making a surface appeal to Christian morality while justifying a corrupt and exploitative new economy?  Does there need to be only one reason why this book would be so bothersome without being different from other books in its genre [1] or did all of these reasons and others make this a read that I instinctively found irritating and annoying even though it was not without value despite its many flaws?

With a forward by Dave Ramsey, this book is clearly aimed at a certain sort of person.  For one, this person assumes that in order for the reader to find contentment and happiness in their work life that it will probably be necessary for them to leave their present employment because of the expectation that their current bosses will not be able to appreciate the desire for growth and change or improvement in position, fit, or salary.  The author writes chapters about the nature of work, the challenge of change, the desirability of creating a life plan, the wheel of one’s personal life, one’s goals, and action plans, the personality of people and the sort of approach they have to work, how to get more job offers by focused and targeted job searches, how people can find their own unique path using multiple streams of revenue as well as a flexible approach, how to deal with interviews, how to negotiate for salary at the right time, examining whether someone has what it takes to be an entrepreneur, looking at unusual approaches to business including wrangling skunks, and a conclusion that encourages the reader to adopt an approach where they are continually selling something to those around them, with an appendix that shows sample resumes and cover letters, samples of personal mission statements, as well as helpful reading lists and internet sites.  The work as a whole is a bit more than 200 pages, or well within the normal range for books of this kind.

This is a book that is well-characterized by the expression of tension or ambivalence.  On the one hand, the author seeks to present himself as a defender of high-minded ideals concerning the honor of labor and the high place of work in the divine plan.  On the other hand, this work is relentlessly focused on continual competition with others, a never-ending effort to pitch something at all places and times, and a justification of an insecure new economy where people are expendable in companies and where companies are leaner and meaner and ordinary people just have to deal with the inevitable and continual change that results from the short-sidedness of companies.  On the one hand, this book praises the continual acquisition of knowledge, but on the other it seeks to insult genius and look at self-education from the point of view of focusing on books with a sort of mindless positivity and tendency to self-promotion as opposed to works of intellectual depth.  This is a book that cannot decide whether it wishes to celebrate God or mammon, and seeks to do both with a fair amount of incoherence on a deep level, yet it is not without value and is best appreciated as a pragmatic guide from someone who is not particularly bright but is a self-promoter who also enjoys profiting off of encouraging others to be just like him.  Even if one does not like the author, there is a certain shrewdness and worldly wisdom about the author that is worthy of at least a grudging respect.

[1] See, for example:

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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6 Responses to Book Review: 48 Days To The Work You Love

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