Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry into the Value of Work

Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry into the Value of Work

by Matthew B. Crawford

This book is primarily about restoring honor to the manual trades. Crawford writes about the “rich cognitive challenges and psychic nourishment” that come with “the experience of making things and fixing things.”

It makes sense to start with some context about the author’s career path. “I started working as an electrician’s helper shortly before I turned fourteen… When I couldn’t get a job with my college degree in physics, I was glad to have something to fall back on, and went into business for myself.” Later, Crawford went back to school and earned a Ph.D. in political philosophy. He took a job as executive director of a think tank, but he found the work dispiriting. “Despite the beautiful ties I wore, it turned out to be a more proletarian existence than I had known as a manual worker.” After only five months, he quit and opened a motorcycle repair shop. “Perhaps most surprising, I often find manual work more engaging intellectually.” Continue reading

Primary Greatness: The 12 Levers of Success

Primary Greatness: The 12 Levers of Success

by Stephen R. Covey

This is a book about integrity and character. It is about leadership as well as personal development. “There’s no such thing as organizational behavior, only individual behavior… Leadership is communicating to another person their worth and potential so clearly they are inspired to see it in themselves… The common thread in the best thinking on management and leadership is this: People both want and need to feel that their lives and work have meaning.”

“Primary greatness is who you really are—your character, your integrity, your deepest motives and desires. Secondary greatness is popularity, title, position, fame, fortune, and honors… Going for secondary greatness without primary greatness doesn’t work. People don’t build successful lives on the unstable sands of what is outwardly or temporarily popular, but they do build successful lives on the bedrock of principles that do not change.”

“Character is foundational. All else builds on this cornerstone. Even the very best structure, system, style, and skills can’t compensate completely for deficiencies in character… People get lost when they use a local norm or internal standard to justify covert or corrupt business practices… Universal principles like respect, empathy, honesty, and trust ultimately govern.”  Continue reading

Choosing Civility

Choosing Civility: The Twenty-Five Rules of Considerate Conduct

by P.M. Forni

Choosing Civility is about counteracting the “coarsening of America.”  It was published in 2002, but is more relevant than ever.

“Being civil means being constantly aware of others and weaving restraint, respect, and consideration into the fabric of this awareness… When we approach others assuming that they are good, honest, and sensitive, we often encourage them to be just that.”

“Every act of kindness is, first of all, an act of attention… When we relate to the world as if we were on automatic pilot, we can hardly be at our best in our encounters with our fellow human beings.”

“Restraint is our inner designated driver. We all have it, and we all can learn to summon it whenever we need it… Restraint is an infusion of thinking—and thoughtfulness—into everything we do.”

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The Decision Makeover

The Decision Makeover: An Intentional Approach to Living the Life You Want

by Mike Whitaker

The Decision Makeover is about replacing haphazard decision making with a mindful approach based on advancing our priorities. “Trial and error does not focus upon why each of our options makes sense in the big picture. The question should be: Does this choice best support my personal definition of success? … It takes discipline to ignore the noise and focus on only a few key goals. When we focus, things get done.”

Whitaker says that that we gain success momentum from a series of interdependent decisions. He describes the success formula waterfall: awareness, prime goals, decisions, dividends, momentum, success. “Good decision making allows you to pick up speed and make faster progress.”

Each year we make thousands of minor decisions, dozens of medium decisions, and perhaps one big decision. “Medium decisions are best illustrated as ‘course corrections’—like a boat captain. Since the boat’s destination is one of our big decisions… These medium decisions assure progress toward our success.” Continue reading

Disrupt Yourself

disrupt-yourself

Disrupt Yourself: Putting the Power of Disruptive Innovative to Work

by Whitney Johnson

Clayton Christensen introduced the concept of disruptive innovation in The Innovator’s Dilemma, his seminal book which focused on the computer industry. His successive books applied the concept to health care and education. Now, Whitney Johnson writes about disrupting your own career. Continue reading

What You’re Really Meant to Do

what-youre-really-meant-to-do

What You’re Really Meant to Do: A Roadmap for Reaching Your Unique Potential

by Robert Steven Kaplan

“The key to achieving your aspirations lies not in ‘being a success’ but rather in working to reach your unique potential… Remember, lots of people will tell you what you should do and what you should want, but they don’t have to live your life. Chances are, moreover, that they’re not very happy with their own lives.” Continue reading