Love + Work

I just finished a book by Marcus Buckingham, titled “Love + Work.” I didn’t really want to read it. I kinda had to, because my wife “thought I would like it.”

I started by speed-reading it — which usually means I read the first paragraph of each chapter, the first line of each paragraph, and then the last paragraph of each chapter. If something stands out or looks interesting, I slow down and dig in.

But I quickly slowed down and backed up to start pretty much over. OK, so I skimmed some of the stories, but still, I have to admit that the book caught my attention.

You see, I was brought up to look at all the things I need to improve upon about myself, and improve them. This makes for a well-rounded person. Perhaps it also makes for someone who has a lot of tools for resiliency; someone who is at least somewhat prepared for just about anything.

It makes sense that my parents would raise me this way. They grew up in Nazi Germany, and ended their short childhoods as refugees during the war, emigrating to the United States in their late teens.

The problem with this approach to life — of always focusing on the things you don’t do well — is that it’s unlikely you’ll ever be really awesome at anything.

For that, you need to focus on the things that you love. Hence, this book.

The author talks about looking for the three indicators of “Love” — that is, activities you love. They are (I’m quizzing myself now): Instinct (things you do instinctively); Flow (things that cause you to lose track of time), and; Mastery (things that you pick up relatively easily).

This isn’t another “Follow Your Bliss” book. There are plenty of times in the book where the author acknowledges the fuzzy edges of rules, or puts idealistic concepts into perspective. For instance, this book is the first time I’ve ever seen in print the concept that I came up with independently about 20 years ago — that even the best jobs are made up out of only 20% things you like. The other 80% is stuff you do so that you can do the 20%.

So why am I posting on this particular blog about this particular book? Because of a quote in the epilogue: “One of the biggest changes you can make in the world is how you choose to see and understand others.”

The end.