The Art of Work, Jeff Goins

The Art of Work: A Proven Path to Discovering What You Were Meant to Do (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2015)

We all have some understanding of what we’re supposed to do with our lives. We may not realize it or perhaps we lost it, but it’s there, waiting to be uncovered. — Jeff Goins

I wish I’d had this book twenty years ago. It would have saved me more than half that time searching for the answer to the question: What am I here for? What am I supposed to do with my life?

The question has plagued generations. Just look at history. Amidst the confusion of the many flourish the marvels of the few. Why do so few people ever discover what could be the most influential breakthrough of their lives, if not the breakthrough—something that could affect not just this life, but generations to come?

At the end of your days, what will be the mark of your success? And really, how do you define success? Is it possible to find the answers before it’s too late?

Fortunately, the answer is Yes. In The Art of Work: A Proven Path to Discovering What You Were Meant to Do, best-selling author Jeff Goins delivers just what the title promises. Through true stories of ordinary men and women choosing extraordinary lives, Goins shows you how they have searched for, found, and are fulfilling their purposes. And within each story, Goins does more than coach you. He walks beside you, sharing actionable wisdom from his own inspiring journey.

Jeff Goins’ perspective is both fresh and relevant for today’s generations. Every page speaks from the heart of an authentic writer who has been there. And you’ll be convinced, not by hypothetical storytelling but through real people, that a path exists for all of us to find what we are meant to do, and who we are meant to be.

Jeff breaks this down into three parts for easy digestion: Preparation, Action, and Completion. The first to wake you up for your breakthrough. The second to discover and commit to your new destination. And the third to spur you on toward mastery and a life fulfilled in legacy. But don’t be fooled. Becoming the person you are called to be will not be easy. And that’s exactly where this book is going to help you.

If this has struck even one spark in you, I encourage you to check it out. You can click here to order The Art of Work: A Proven Path to Discovering What You Were Meant to Do from Amazon. (A five star rating at the time of this review.)

For additional ordering options and to learn more about Jeff Goins, his consulting, coaching, seminars and speaking on a variety of subjects ranging from writing and creativity to leadership and influence to social media and online marketing, visit his website at goinswriter.com.

Necessary Endings, Dr. Henry Cloud

Necessary Endings: The Employees, Businesses, and Relationships That All of Us Have to Give Up in Order to Move Forward (New York: HarperBusiness, 2011)

…for us to ever get to a new level, a new tomorrow, or the next step, something has to end. — Dr. Henry Cloud

Most of us learned how to start things, but few of us ever learned how to end things. Creating endings is not something we like to do. It requires change. Rocking the boat. Maybe even throwing someone (or ourselves) overboard. Ouch.

We delay making the necessary change out of fear. Life feels disrupted as it is. Why should we introduce another problem? And we convince ourselves, If I stop investing my time and resources here, this person is going to be mad at me. Yes, they might be. Or, what if I can’t end this relationship?, when you know it’s unhealthy for you. The weight of the confrontation is too great.

So we stick it out. Hope it will improve. A year goes by. Then another. And another. The only ending we get good at is ending back where we started.

In his book Necessary Endings: The Employees, Businesses, and Relationships That All of Us Have to Give Up in Order to Move Forward, best-selling author Dr. Henry Cloud explains what is at stake when we refuse to force an ending.

He calls it the pruning moment, “that clarity of enlightenment when we become responsible for making the decision to either own the vision or not” (page 24). To own the vision. Place your stake in what you have believed all along you should be working toward and start moving in that direction, be it improving your current job situation, paving toward a new career, pursuing an idea, discovering your calling, or re-prioritizing your most important relationships. Often, it’s several.

What I love about Dr. Cloud’s book is he doesn’t encourage you to blindly make sacrificial decisions. There may be no such thing as a stupid question, but there are undeniably stupid decisions. This book helps you avoid this mistake by employing wisdom instead.

Every worthy venture, however, requires risk, and Dr. Cloud does not shy away from this paradox. He helps you analyze your situation, choose which buds and branches of opportunities are the best ones to keep, and which should be pruned (even some very good ones).

The result? The best blossoms of who you are and what you have to offer. The richest of relationships. And the savvy for a lifetime of finishing well.

Necessary Endings is not written for business readers alone. Dr. Cloud applies the truth from both a personal and professional point of view. You will no doubt find it applicable to all aspects of your life.

To order or read more about Necessary Endings click here, and to learn more about best-selling author and speaker Dr. Henry Cloud, you can visit his website here.

Do the Work,Steven Pressfield,artists,dreamers,starting a business,venture,writing

Do the Work! (The Domino Project, 2011)

Remember, our enemy is not lack of preparation; it’s not the difficulty of the project or the state of the marketplace or the emptiness of our bank account. The enemy is Resistance. The enemy is our chattering brain, which, if we give it so much as a nanosecond, will start producing excuses, alibis, transparent self-justifications, and a million reasons why we can’t/shouldn’t/won’t do what we know we need to do. — Steven Pressfield, Do the Work!

Work is work, and even the work we love to do—though fueled by our passion—still requires effort. Every idea that we spin into motion always encounters resistance. Always.

To some degree, we are all artists. Whatever your passion—be it creating art, music, writing, starting a new business, launching into a ministry, forming a special interest group, or simply doing your best at the job you’re in right now—ultimately is done to better yourself, achieve something (even if only a paycheck), share with others. Usually it’s to find a little more joy. A little more happiness. But always fulfillment of some kind. As Steven Pressfield says in his book Do the Work!, “The last thing we want is to remain as we are.

In Do the Work!, Pressfield takes you from Beginning to End on what you can expect to encounter on your new venture, and the grit it will take to finish. He doesn’t throw any trick punches either.

In this short read, about 100 pages of eye-grabbing fonts, bullet points, and paragraphs filled with high-impact quotes, he’ll hit you square in the nose. And the result? You’ll be ready to fight for your cause.

Two other excellent reads by Pressfield that tie in with Do the Work! are The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles, and Turning Pro: Tap Your Inner Power and Create Your Life’s Work.

You can read more about Steven Pressfield here at his website, www.stevenpressfield.com.

Unleash the Writer Within: The Essential Writers’ Companion (Waterford, VA: OakTara, 2012)

You may never fully understand your motives, but it’s still a good question to ask yourself regularly: Why do I write? — Cecil Murphey

Whether you’re writing for publication or putting your life down in a journal, launching a blog or already writing professionally, here’s a book that can help you figure out why you really write, and why it’s important for you to explore the question.

I had the wonderful opportunity to sit in on a few writing classes taught by Cecil Murphey, co-author of the popular book 90 Minutes in Heaven: A True Story of Death and Life. Whether speaking or writing, “Cec” embodies a down-to-earth style and “no bull” approach.  In his book for writers, Unleash the Writer Within: The Essential Writers’ Companion, Cec sits at eye-level with you, like the long-time friend who can shoot you straight about your writing, why you write, who you are as a writer, and how to work with your inner critic to improve your writing instead of warring against it.

Cec offers an honest examination of his own life as a writer, his ups, downs, and doubts, and his own experiences in overcoming the challenges most writers face (and aren’t willing to admit). He also asks tough questions, including one that I believe lurks around every budding writer’s psyche—is writing really your gift?

Check out more on Cecil, his books, and his speaking schedule via his website, www.cecilmurphey.com.

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less (New York: Crown Business, 2014)

“I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”  Bronnie Ware, The Top Five Regrets of the Dying

Do you ever feel that way? It’s a tough balance to live out the life and purposes we feel so compelled to pursue, while being confronted every day with an overwhelming number of requests that we cannot meet. And the confusion most of us face is what do we say “yes” or “no” to? How do we discern what is important and what is most important? How do we work through the process of turning down some very good opportunities so we can focus our resources toward the right opportunities, or the best? How do we reduce the clutter so we can identify what we’re supposed to be doing in the first place?

In what has become one of the most influential reads on my bookshelf, Greg McKeown’s Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less presents a roadmap to these questions and the way of the “Essentialist.” This is not some flower-child sell-off-all-your-possessions idea. It is the solution to how we can accomplish more by doing less. “Less but better,” as McKeown says. He helps you take an honest look at the pressure cooker lifestyle you’re living right now and shows you the way out through choice—your choice.

McKeown’s offer is written for today’s generation. I nodded through the entire book thinking, this guy knows exactly what’s happening in our society, and he gets it. It’s not only helped me avoid burnout—again—but it has also given me focus on strengthening the key relationships in my life, getting serious about my health (and the 40 pounds I’ve gained in the last four years), and the freedom to invest in the areas where I am passionate and needed the most versus those opportunities where I am simply wanted the most.

-bsh