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The Art of Work Summary

The Book in Three Sentences

  1. According to Victor Frankl, there are three things that give life meaning: a project, a significant relationship and a redemptive view of suffering.
  2. If we want true satisfaction in life, we have to rise above the pettiness of our own desires and do what is required of us.
  3. Clarity comes with action.

The Five Big Ideas

  1. “A calling is what you have when you look back at your life and make sense of what it’s been trying to teach you all along.”
  2. “Most people waste the best years of their life waiting for an adventure to come to them instead of going out and finding one.”
  3. “Sometimes all it takes to make a difficult decision is an affirming voice telling you what you know to be true but still need to hear.”
  4. “Regardless of natural talent or the lack thereof, every person has the ability to improve themselves.”
  5. “The basic idea of a portfolio life is that instead of thinking of your work as a monolithic activity, what if you chose to see it as the complex group of interests, passions, and activities it is?”

The Art of Work Summary

  • “Maybe we all have the power to turn our lives into significant stories if we start to see our difficulties as opportunities.”
  • “[Victor Frankl] learned there are three things that give meaning to life: first, a project; second, a significant relationship; and third, a redemptive view of suffering.”
  • “What we all want is to know our time on earth has meant something. We can distract ourselves with pleasure for only so long before beginning to wonder what the point is. This means if we want true satisfaction, we have to rise above the pettiness of our own desires and do what is required of us. A calling comes when we embrace the pain, not avoid it.”
  • “In any great narrative, there is a moment when a character must decide to become more than a bystander.”
  • “Most people waste the best years of their life waiting for an adventure to come to them instead of going out and finding one.”
  • “And they learned, as you might, an important lesson: clarity comes with action.”
  • “A calling is what you have when you look back at your life and make sense of what it’s been trying to teach you all along.”
  • “But a vocation is not like that. It’s not something you try; it’s someone you become.”
  • “Every single thing that has ever happened in your life is preparing you for a moment that is yet to come. —UNKNOWN”
  • “Sometimes all it takes to make a difficult decision is an affirming voice telling you what you know to be true but still need to hear.”
  • “The worst way to get a mentor is to go find one. The best way is to see the one that’s already there.”
  • “Regardless of natural talent or the lack thereof, every person has the ability to improve themselves.”
  • “Any great discovery, especially that of your life’s work, is never a single moment. In fact, epiphany is an evolutionary process; it happens in stages.”
  • “First, you hear the call. It may sound different to each person, but it comes to us all.”
  • “Humility is a prerequisite for epiphany.”
  • “Second, you respond. Mere words will not suffice—you must act.”
  • “Third, you begin to believe.”
  • “The path to your dream is more about following a direction than arriving at a destination.”
  • “Every calling is marked by a season of insignificance, a period when nothing seems to make sense. This is a time of wandering in the wilderness, when you feel alone and misunderstood. To the outsider, such a time looks like failure, as if you are grasping at air or simply wasting time. But the reality is this is the most important experience a person can have if they make the most of it.”
  • “The basic idea of a portfolio life is that instead of thinking of your work as a monolithic activity, what if you chose to see it as the complex group of interests, passions, and activities it is?”
  • “And what if instead of identifying with a job description, you began to see the whole mass of things you do as one portfolio of activity?”
  • “This idea was first coined by Charles Handy in his book The Age of Unreason. In the book, Handy lays out five different types of work that make up your portfolio. They are: fee work, salary work, homework, study work, and gift work.”
  • “Fee and salary work are the only types of paid work and are somewhat self-explanatory: fee work means trading hours for dollars and a salary is a fixed income based on a job description.”
  • “Homework is work that you do at home, like mowing the lawn or spending time with your family. Study work is any intentional education that contributes to any work you do in the future, like reading a book or taking a vocational class. And gift work is any volunteer experience you might do, including giving your time to a local homeless shelter or even taking someone out to lunch to give them helpful career advice.”
  • “Handy then encourages what he calls “portfolio people” to organize their time not based on hours in a week, but rather days in a year. For example, if you need to make $50,000 per year and can figure out a way to make $250 a day, then you only need to work 200 days a year. The remaining 165 days can be spent on the rest of your portfolio.”
  • “Life is not a support system for your work; your work is a support system for your life.”

Other Books by Jeff Goins

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