The Art of Work Review. Do You Know Your Calling?
There is nothing worse than the feeling of impotence. What is in my future? Where am I heading with my life (at least regarding vocation)? How can I evaluate whether I made the right choice?
Some of you might be asking the same questions. Others might be pretty content with where you are right now. Until a few months ago, I was part of the first group, and those questions haunted me.
Not that I was unhappy with my work. After all, I was hired to finally do something that I love: write. But in essence, I felt like it was just filling in for another job (that’s right, job). Way before getting to this point, I changed careers a couple of times—I migrated from the hospitality industry to the area of early-childhood education. I’m thankful for those experiences, and I don’t regret them a bit, because they provided me with remarkable views of the world. Still, for me, there was something missing. I was in search of a more fulfilling life: a life in which I could express my passion and make a difference in the world. That’s how I came to do what I’m doing now: writing full-time.
The Art of Work: A Proven Path to Discovering What You Were Meant to Do shows it’s a journey. It sure took me a while to figure it out. Webinar after webinar, blog readings, countless nights thinking What if and How could. . . . Many questions were still unanswered (Is this ringing bells for anyone?) until I came across the book The Art of Work by Jeff Goins. I don’t know which stage of your life you are currently in, but if you find yourself in the same situation that I was, this book is for you.
The beauty of this piece lies in not only leading you to find your calling, but in guiding you on a journey to find your true self. Through the use of anecdotes, Jeff details the seven phases/patterns—Awareness, Apprenticeship, Practice, Discovery, Profession, Mastery, and Legacy—that lead us to find our calling.
Imagine a movie of your life playing in front of you, and you are reflecting, reckoning, and laughing at times. That’s the way that I felt while going through each chapter and diving into the stories of the people in this book: stories of survival, resilience, and overcoming obstacles in order to find a purpose in life.
If there were one single path, I’d be doomed. The book goes over many lessons. It’s not my plan to give away spoilers, but instead, to reflect on the fundamental aspects of the piece. In this review, I will go over a few aspects that touched me in a deeper way.
The first lesson that struck right out of the gate. . . .
Get out of your comfort zone – The Art of Work
How many times do we make excuses for not doing things? I can’t count the times I heard, “I’ll take care of that tomorrow.” Then, tomorrow becomes next week. Next week becomes next month. Then, next month turns into next year. We look for an easy way out, saying, “If I had an option, I would leave, but for now I’ll keep looking,” or maybe “I’m still there [on the job] because of the benefits.” Translation: If it hurts, I’m out.
We have a lack of commitment for fear of failure. Because we tend to be afraid of the unknown, and don’t want to look bad in the eyes of family, friends, and society, it’s easy to stay in our comfort zone. This is especially true when it comes to our vocation. How many times have you listened to a friend or significant other complaining about their job, but in the end, they don’t take any action? It’s the same thing over and over, and eventually the complaint just gets old.
I hear quite a share of those stories every day. Although I got used to it, I was always on the other side of the fence. If it had to be done, I’d take care of things in a heartbeat. My sin was not having a clear picture of where I was heading. But being a cheerleader of family and friends, I always tried to get them to see the light at the end of the tunnel and help them get things sorted out for the best.
That is when the bell rang for me. Throughout this path, I came to realize two things about us as human beings:
1. We don’t live anyone else’s dreams, and
2. If someone doesn’t have that fire inside of themselves—the intrinsic motivation that will keep them going through the difficulties—nothing is going to happen.
Jeff cut to the chase and led readers to realize that nothing is going to happen if there is no action. And it’s with action that opportunities come. Opportunities will be everywhere (even in the form of obstacles). We are the ones who need to know how to spot and take advantage of them. Many of those opportunities will come up as “accidental apprenticeships.”
The case of “accidental apprenticeships” x practice
Look around you. Go back a few years of your life. If you reflect upon your existence, you will notice that no matter which stage you are in, you had the help of someone (or many people) throughout your journey. Those individuals, whom I call guardian angels, are mentors. They come along the way to teach us how to polish our skills, and the best ones—the ones who have our interests at heart—are the ones who push us to the limit. They know where we can go and what we can accomplish, even though we might not have any idea. Those are the ones who get us on the road to practice—the kind of practice that will lead to mastery.
In the movie Whiplash, Andrew Neiman (played by Milles Teller), a novice jazz student, is the perfect example of that. Determined to prove his relentless instructor Terrence Fletcher (portrayed by J.K. Simmons) wrong, he practiced the drums so hard that his hands bled. Andrew had practiced the drums since a young age. He wanted to follow Buddy Rich’s footsteps and become one of the biggest drummers of all times. When he got the opportunity of his lifetime at the well-known Shaffer Conservatory in New York, he didn’t want let it go.
Not that everybody should get to the point of bleeding—although figuratively, you should, according to Hemingway—but the importance of serious practice and perseverance is clear. It will not be a walk in the park. It will be tough and uncomfortable at times, but it’ll sure be worth it.
The trajectory toward your calling is not linear
Even though we try to find the easy way out to get what we want, that is not always the best solution, at least when it comes to finding what we are meant to be and the legacy we are meant to leave. We will face many difficulties, and, sometimes, hardships. We will have to get out of our shell and face the uncertainties. We will need to dedicate ourselves to practice and mastery. Still, before figuring out our calling, we will be part of another person’s vision.
For this matter, I’m thankful to have passed through all of the “apprenticeships” I’ve been in that have contributed in any way to my path. There was no better feeling for me than when a hotel guest thanked me for the gracious service they received, or when a parent thanked me regarding their child’s progress in school. Those minimal acts would make my day!
The route is not the same for everybody. The reality is that most of us will find a bumpy road or two along the way. I can tell you that I did. And thank goodness that happened. Because those bumpy roads taught me many lessons and helped me grow as a person.
The powerful message in The Art of Work sparks all over the manuscript. Jeff is candid. He uses a straightforward and conversational tone, which feels like he is speaking directly to you, the reader. In this book, he will not teach you a magical formula to a brilliant career. Instead, he will guide you through the “signs” and lead you to a path to identify and create your own legacy.
If you need to find your way through the maze of life or get a little nudge to find your purpose, this book will be of invaluable help to you.
Have you read The Art of Work or another book that helped in your calling? Share your thoughts in the comment section.