Instead of the usual new year’s resolutions, which are notoriously hard to keep, why not set out on a concrete path to make the next chapter of your life more meaningful and satisfying? How? By “finding the thread that ties your story together” suggests Pamela Slim in her idea-packed new book, Body of Work. Intuitively, you know that the stronger the role you can play in your career choices, the greater the chance you will be productive and happy with them.
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That’s why finding a way to incorporate your multiple interests and talents into a coherent whole on which you can grow your unique and valuable mastery can be key to the illusive, flourishing life you seek.
Know When It’s Time To Move On
For example, however you are working now, where are you on what Slim dubs “the loathing scale” ranging from one to ten? That scale ranges from deep dislike of your situation to where ”you don’t have to struggle so much everyday to make a happy, healthy living?” Even if you are in that comfortable “happy” work situation, what Jim Collins calls “the sweet spot” and Martha Beck describes as the “Promised Land” Slim calls it “dangerous.” You are not challenging yourself to hone your core mastery and thus vulnerable to losing options in your future. To keep growing your body of work, rather than getting “out of your comfort zone, she agrees with Michele Woodward’s re-framing: “enlarge your comfort zone.” Who knows? You may choose to quit sooner.
Along With the Fates, Be A Greater Co-Author Of Your Life Story
“Your body of work is everything you create, contribute, affect and impact…. It is the personal legacy you leave at the end of your life, including and the tangible things you have created. Individuals who structure their careers around autonomy, master and purpose will have a powerful body of work,” writes Slim. I heartily agree with Slim when she writes that, “in the new world of work, our ability to create a powerful body of works is what will determine our ongoing employability.”
Taking this approach you are more likely to become a sought-after by Becoming a Category of One, as Joe Calloway suggests and incorporate more of your talents and interests into a coherent life as Marci Alboher advocated in One Life/Multiple Careers, thus sometimes Reinventing You as Dorie Clark advocates for the times when you want to turn the page to a new chapter of work – and you want others to understand that shift.
Find Your True Path Of Multiple Mastery And Opportunity
Gain a more concrete insight into how you define success for your life and credible way to share your authentic story with others by following her eight-step path. You are more likely to stick to this path because Slim displays both warmth and competence in her steps: concrete steps with checklists, examples, heart-warming success stories, and perhaps most of all, reading about her personal success and satisfaction in following this approach. Here are just some of the many takeaways from this book, which I strongly recommend:
Name Your Ingredients
The life-changing event for David Batstone was reading a news story that two women were found dead in their apartment from a broken hearting vent that leaked carbon monoxide into it. That’s how he learned that the landlord for their building, the owner of his favorite restaurant, was, in fact a major human trafficker.
Horrified, and a curious man by nature, he spent a year studying human trafficking then launched Not For Sale, a non-profit to stop it. Founding it incorporated many of his personal “ingredients” as an investor, businessperson and journalist. “My worlds were very separate. Until Not For Sale, I lived a siloed existence. I never saw my multiple interests as a problem. I saw the threads to my story. It was a natural, logical quilt. Not For Sale was the first time I could bring all my worlds together,” he told Slim.
Hint: As you identify your most valuable assets, which Slim dub ingredients “skills, strengths, experiences, identity and knowledge” and feel comfortable with your “quilt” as your true path, you are more likely to be pulled into a work life that integrates more of them. A complementary way to identify them is to recognize what Marcus Buckingham calls your “strongest moments.”
Grow by Creating A “Hook” On Which Others Can Participate
In addition to the many valuable ways Slim suggests you can benefit from your disparate ingredients, Frans Johansson, The Click Moment, suggests you look for the serendipitous moments when things gel in your using those assets. He also advocate your creating a “hook” on which potential allies can hang their support, including providing relevant resources to grow your movement, as Not For Sale is doing.
This same approach can work for growing your business as Toms Shoes recently did by “turning a company into a movement” — creating a “marketplace” for other companies that also commit to donating one product for every product sold.
Taking this approach you are creating a vividly concrete “purposeful narrative” in which others see a role they are want to play in your story, suggests Tell To Win author Peter Guber. They are moved to add to “our” story, reshaping and sharing it with others. In so doing, they can support, expand and spread your body of work.
Create a Virtuous Circle By Consistently Spotlighting Others Who Contribute to Your Body of Work
One of Slim’s early hooks was her blog which pulled in diverse friends and allies including Guy Kawasaki, Bob Sutton, Garr Reynolds, Kathy Sierra and Seth Godin – all cited in her book along with a legion of others where she positively and specifically describes exactly how they helped her grow her body of work, thus furthering a virtuous circle of shared learning, appreciation and visibility. That’s a priceless way to build a shared living legacy for a flourishing life with others.
You, too, may be invigorated and inspired by Slim’s steps: Define Your Roots, Name Your Ingredients, Choose Your Work Mode, Create And Innovate, Surf the Fear, Collaborate, Your Definition of Success, Share Your Story. Among the many helpful sections in the book some of my favorites are how to identify your roots, eleven way to develop a mastery mind-set, connectional intelligence, who should you have in your networks (complements Your Network Is Your Net Worth), a content map for you career, and (of course) finding the thread that ties your story together.
Pamela’s closing story hits an inspirational high point. In writing it, she came to realize that the way her father led his life as a productive contributor, following his passions and diligently using his best talents, with and for others was, in fact, a blueprint for how she, too, thrives by growing her body of work. Shall we explore how we can support each other in growing our body of work better together in 2014?
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