Book: Do More Great Work by Michael Bungay Stanier
Genre: Self help
Publisher: Workman Publishing
Publication date: 2010
Summary: Do More Great Work is an attractive small format book with lots of sidebars, guest columns, and worksheets. The exercises take the reader through a process of self-discovery and environment-evaluation to illuminate potential opportunities for great work. Once a Great Work Project has been identified, more exercises provide a path to move forward with the work.
Thoughts: I misinterpreted the title of this book, thinking it would help me do more of what I already know to be my Great Work Project. Instead, most of the focus was on figuring out what that project might be. That made sense, when I thought about it, it just wasn’t what I wanted.
What I want, I suspect, is a robot that makes light meals and cleans the kitchen afterwards. Oh, and bonks me on the head every time I open Facebook. Because what I need to do more great work is fewer chores and distractions. Possibly, it’s unrealistic to expect a book to give me fewer chores and distractions.
One of the guest columns was encouraging on this front, however. Leo Babauta (famed for the blog Zen Habits) wrote that the key to great work is work on it, without distractions, regularly. And, by that, he seems to mean that half an hour a day is good enough if that’s all we can manage. So, I need to quit feeling bad that I “only” manage two to four hours on four or five days a week. If I keep doing that, I’ll eventually get my project done. Maybe it will take two to five years, but that’s still shorter than “forever.”
Another guest column had a terrific piece of advice on networking — one that will work especially well for us introverts who don’t much like talking about ourselves. This is from Chris Guillebeau who writes the blog The Art of Non-Conformity:
Change the Rules of Networking. Traditional networking involves scoping people out to see what they can do for you. Instead of asking “What can you do for me?” unconventional networking is externally focused. It asks the questions, “How can I help you? What can I do to tell other people about you? What are your goals?” The shifts from transaction to relationship and from taking to giving are two of the deep rhythms of Great Work. p. 133
Appeal: Do More Great Work is most helpful to the white-collar worker with at least a little autonomy in the selection of tasks (the book will help nudge a little more freedom into the workday, if needed). I can imagine Do More Great Work might also be used as a framework for someone who wants to get out of a job that doesn’t allow for much autonomy — this book could help map a moonlighting project with a purpose.
- Book 3 of 4 for the New Year’s Resolution Reading Challenge
- Book 3 of 16 for the Nonfiction Reading Challenge
Reviews: I heard about this book from MizB at Should Be Reading. It only took me nearly three years to get around to reading it!
Have you read this book? What did you think?