On The Bookshelf: Make a You-Turn

UPDATED: May 14, 2024
PUBLISHED: January 21, 2013
On The Bookshelf: Make a You-Turn

When you have big goals and a massive to-do list, taking a break to sit and think about yourself can feel like a waste of time. But as explained in each of the books on the bookshelf this month, pinpointing detailed knowledge of your tendencies, weaknesses and strengths could provide the key to finding the courage and stamina to push through hard times for greater success.

So Good They Can’t Ignore You

Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love
by Cal Newport
Business Plus, 2012

During the past few decades, people have shifted their career focus from finding jobs that pay the bills to finding work that fills their souls. The lucky ones find or create work that does both.

In So Good They Can’t Ignore You, Cal Newport challenges the validity of the oft-repeated phrase, “follow your passion.” Newport believes that uncovering (and then pursuing) a predetermined passion isn’t necessarily the key to an engaging career; he maintains that such advice can actually lead to confusion, dissatisfaction and unmet expectations.

Instead Newport says skill, control and a sense of mission are the keys to building a career that you can grow to love long-term. Although the ideas contradict the standard career-coaching lines, Newport’s book offers an odd sort of hope: You may not have to figure out life—or even yourself—before starting down a path of career fulfillment.

Perhaps the most valuable and practical encouragement offered in So Good They Can’t Ignore You is the advice to stick it out when your work is challenging. Newport recounts stories of actor-comedian Steve Martin and others who committed to intense focus and deliberate practice. Although it may be uncomfortable or painful to acquire new skills, those who grow to love their work are the ones who don’t simply settle for good enough, but stretch themselves to reach mastery.

—Erin K. Casey
Noteworthy Quote: “Missions are powerful because they focus your energy toward a useful goal, and this in turn maximizes your impact on the world.”

A couple of things you’ll learn:

Why predetermined passion may not be the best indicator of a career fit

Why mission matters at work

Heart, Smarts, Guts, and Luck

What It Takes to Be an Entrepreneur and Build a Great Business
by Anthony K. Tjan, Richard J. Harrington and Tsun-Yan Hsieh
Harvard Business Review Press, 2012

Heart, Smarts, Guts, and Luck is part business analysis, part self-help, part motivation and never unrealistic. If you want to start a business, you must first know who you are—including your weaknesses. Then doggedly pursue your dream with the understanding that it is not easy to become a successful entrepreneur. The authors reinforce their points with graphs and tables that don’t require a Ph.D. in economics to interpret. They also provide examples of the way businesses change, plus how positive and negative changes can be managed using the framework presented in the book.

—Wendy Rudman

Noteworthy Quote: “Remain constant with your core principles, and with everything else have courage to tweak, pivot or change as the market dictates the need for such adjustment.”

A couple of things you’ll learn:

Why imagination and adaptability are prerequisites to business success

How good luck can be enticed

The Charge

Activating the 10 Human Drives That Make You Feel Alive
by Brendon Burchard
Free Press, a Division of Simon & Schuster, 2012

The Charge, best-selling author Brendon Burchard’s fourth book, explores the 10 factors, or “drivers,” that can help you live life more fully. With a splash of neuroscience (couched in layman’s terms) and a dash of psychology, he reveals how to avoid living a life of quiet desperation. Using anecdotes from his own life as well as the lives of those he has coached, Burchard helps readers identify the best route to a meaningful life. His practices—custom-tailored so they’re meaningful to each individual—will equip you for your journey.

—Jenna Lang

Noteworthy Quote:

“Living a Charged Life requires much of you. You must be more conscious about designing your days and activating your drives.”

A couple of things you’ll learn:

How to identify and focus on factors you can control

How to experience change as more exhilarating than stressful

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