Body of Work: A book review by Bob Morris

Posted on: May 15th, 2014 by bobmorris

Body of WorkBody of Work: Finding the Thread That Ties Your Story Together
Pamela Slim
Portfolio/The Penguin Group (2013)

Why we must strive to “direct our own lives, to learn and create new things, and to do better by ourselves and our world”

The title of this review was suggested by Dan Pink’s observation, in DRiVE, about the secret to high performance and satisfaction in all dimensions of our lives. Clayton Christensen also has much of value to say about this in How Will You Measure Your Life? as does Ken Robinson in two books, The Element and Finding Your Element.

With regard to the title of this book, Pamela Slim recalls, “After decades of watching my dad work, I realized that he was not just building a career (although he was a very successful professional photographer), he was not just being a volunteer (although he spend hundreds of hours of unpaid time on community projects), but he was creating a deep and rich body of work that not only had great meaning and significance to him but also created considerable change and value in his community.”

She makes skillful use of several reader-friendly devices in Chapters 1-7. They include various exercises to complete, examples anchored in real-world experience, and boxed vignettes and FYIs to illustrate key points. These devices achieve two separate but related and critically important objectives: They enable her reader to interact with the material provided in her narrative, and, they facilitate, indeed expedite frequent review of key material later.

These are among the dozens of subjects and issues of special interest and value to me, also listed to indicate the scope of Slim’s coverage.

o How do you build a body of work? (Pages 12-13)
o The ingredients to make effort effective, and, Identifying one’s ingredients (37-42)
o Work modes in the new world of work (55-59)
o How to expand your comfort zone (61-64)
o There Are Four Parts to Your Creative Process (81-89)
o The 20X Rule (97-99)
o Four skills needed to cope with fear and uncertainty (106-125)
o Avatars, ecosystems, and watering holes (134-139)
o Five ways to ask for help with marketing your business (151-152)
o Success in the new world of work, and, Body of Work Success Framework (162-169)
o Your definition of success (173-175)
o The two critical stories for career success, and The Persuasive Story Pattern (187-194)
o How to communicate clearly (199-206)
o The skills Pamela Slim’s father used to create his body of work (218-220)

I agree with the concluding remarks that Pamela Slim shares with her reader: “Viewing your career as a body if work will give you more choice, financial security, and creative freedom. The world is not going to serve up neat career tracks anymore. You cannot guarantee that your business or nonprofit will survive in a constantly changing economic landscape. But you can choose the kinds of projects that are worth completing and the type of life that is worth living.”

Presumably she agrees with me that choosing the kinds of relationships that are worth having is at least as important as choosing the kinds of projects that are worth completing. All of “creative and brave people” she discusses in this book, and especially her father, built a body of work that was primarily the result of service to others, of on-going efforts “to learn and create new things, and to do better by ourselves and our world.”

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