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I decided to read at least one self-development book a month and in June I read The Art of Work by Jeff Goins. The book title got my attention when I was looking for something on Amazon and I ordered it right away. But after it arrived it was sitting on my bookshelf for months before I picked it up. At the end it worked out perfectly because at the beginning of June Jeff Goins started a book study for this book. The book study is planned for eight weeks and every Wednesday Jeff posts a video on his Facebook page in which he’s discussing one of the chapters of the book. You can watch the videos and benefit from his advice and insights without actually having or reading the book itself. For more info check out Jeff’s website or his Facebook page.
The book subtitle is “A proven path to discovering what you were meant to do” and in the book you Jeff writes about seven characteristics he noticed in the stories of people who discovered their calling, listened to it and acted upon it. Each chapter is devoted to one characteristic, which is described through the stories of ordinary, successful people Jeff interviewed and also on his own experience.
These are the seven characteristics Jeff identified with short description how I understood them:
Listen to your life, it will lead you to discovering your calling. For each of us there is a calling. Each of us has a thing that he or she cannot not do. We just have to find it. We should overcome our fear and shouldn’t be discouraged if the path to our calling isn’t straight forward.
No one is an isolated island. We all have guides and advisors on our way through life. That’s what apprenticeship is all about. Learn from greater minds, more experienced, older and wiser.
To learn a skill, to master a craft, to create a product or achieve any kind of success, we need to practice. Deliberate practice, pushing through obstacles, pain and exhaustion, continuing no matter the fails and challenges is what distinguishes those who succeed and those who fail.
It may be difficult to hear our calling. It doesn’t always come as we imagined it, it may not be the calling we were hoping for or dreaming about. The calling often comes in a form of opportunity we don’t feel ready for.
We are growing, developing and changing as human beings. Life around us is changing as well. Technologies, opportunities and needs of the world are evolving too. As a consequence our calling is changing through our lifetime. The life events, changes around us and influence of other people will change our course. It’s ok. Our calling is not a onetime thing. It is, in fact, a lifestyle.
No one is good at one thing or has only a single task in life. We cannot be described with one word or put to a single box. Each of us has many role in life, many sides to our personality, many skills and desires which all together form our portfolio life. Each of us has a unique set of talents, values and goals in life and these define us and determine our calling.
Our calling and our work are bigger than us. Part of everything we work on is the legacy we leave for the next generations. Our work needs to be good to influence those around us.
3 ideas from the book I liked the most
I really liked the chapter and ideas about the apprenticeship. We easily get the impression that successful people achieved their success all by themselves. It’s simply not true. We all have people in our lives who influence, shape and guide us. We cannot choose who will come to our life, who will be willing to invest in us, but we can choose from whom we will learn, who will be an inspiration for us and whose qualities, wisdom or profession we will aspire to.
Sixth chapter devoted to the mastery and describing the portfolio life was probably my favorite. The idea that our life is a portfolio of skills, talents and desires makes so much sense. We are complex beings after all. We cannot wait for a day when we will miraculously know what to do with our lives. We should do what we love, try many things and pursue many desires. They will shape us to a person we are meant to be and will help us discover our calling.
The last characteristic and chapter in the book devoted to the legacy is maybe the most important to understand to live a happy life. Maybe our contributions to the world will not be groundbreaking, maybe they will not be what we dreamed them to be, but if we spend our lives persistently working we will leave the legacy for the next generations. This legacy is equally as important as leaving a groundbreaking finished piece of work because it may be an important building block in something bigger.
My favorite quotes from the book
“Every story of success is, in fact, a story of community.”
“Excellence is a matter of practice, not talent.”
“A calling is not merely a moment; it’s a lifestyle, a constant progression of submitting to a larger purpose.”
“It’s true that you are not what you do, but you can become what you practice.”
“Your calling is not a job. It is your entire life.”
Who is Jeff Goins
Jeff Goins is a writer, author of four books, speaker, online writing teacher and consultant. On his blog he writes about writing and life. He also hosts a podcast call The Portfolio Life where he shares his reflections, findings as well as interviews with fellow writers, speakers and people from other fields who responded to their calling.
You can find more about his work on Jeff’s blog and connect with him through his Twitter account, Facebook page or other social networks.