Book Review: The Art of Work

Book Review: The Art of Work

I was in an epic struggle. Despite years of time and effort I wasn't sure I could finish the project. This wasn't your everyday kind of project; this was a life goal, alter your destiny kind of project. And I was losing the battle.

I had the skills necessary to accomplish what was in front of me, but I was paralyzed with an inability to do the work. During this season I read The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. I discovered names for my paralysis: fear and resistance. I was afraid that I didn't have what it takes, that I wouldn't be able to get the job done, that I would fail at a major life goal. So resistance took over, giving me all the reasons I would ever need to avoid instead of doing the work necessary.

Pressfield named my struggle and help me understand that fear is not always a sign to stop or retreat, for fear can point the way to what we are most supposed to do. We overcome resistance by going pro - showing up and doing the work even when we’re afraid.

I resisted resistance and fear, did the work, and accomplished my lifetime, destiny altering goal. Thank you, Steven.

Recently, Mike at Speakeasy contacted me with an opportunity to receive a free review copy of Jeff Goin's The Art of WorkI immediately noticed the homage to Pressfield's work in the title. Seeing that Pressfield endorsed The Art of Work sealed the deal: Let's see what Goins has to say.

While Pressfield reflects on how to get our work done, Goins is reflecting on what work we should be doing. How do we discover and live into the calling to our true life work? Goins reflects on the nature of calling and discovering our vocation. By listening to people's stories he discovers and unpacks seven common characteristics of people who embrace their calling:

  1. Awareness
  2. Apprenticeship
  3. Practice
  4. Discovery
  5. Profession
  6. Mastery
  7. Legacy

It turns out that calling is less about planning for the perfect life and more about responding well to the unexpected moments of life.

I once thought that discovering my calling was something I would accomplish once and be done. It's the "what will you be when you grow up" question. If this was the case, I would have settled this at 19. I've since made a discovery: we are never finished discovering our calling. Our calling becomes more specific as we walk the path it has for us. It manifests differently in different seasons of life. And, if we let it, calling will guide us throughout our life.

Pressfield prepares us for the war involved in doing our most important work; Goins shows us the way to discover what that most important work is.

Pat Hannon
Pat Hannon Dr. Pat Hannon is a pastor, currently serving at Unity UMC. He is a musician. Listen to his latest music on YouTube. Most importantly, he is a life-long student of Jesus.