This is part of our Rockstar Book Review series.
Be sure to check out all previous books we’ve covered!
“Born for This” is a Worthwhile Read, Even If You Like What You Do
“Born for This” has value for just about anyone who’s thinking about their work situation. The only common ground that’s required is a desire for more, even if we don’t quite know what “more” means. From someone sleeping on his sister’s couch to a successful corporate worker bee looking to make the most of his/her opportunities, Chris demonstrates how we can apply principles of entrepreneurship. And he makes a good point as to why we should:
[E]ven if you’re earning a steady paycheck, you are essentially self-employed in terms of being responsible for your own career. Therefore, you should continually build your skills and look out for yourself. (pg. 225)
Chris helps the reader navigate career success by helping us focus on the following:
- Maximizing the joy-money-flow model
- Trying new things and eliminating what doesn’t work
- How building up our banked savings and goodwill can make all the difference
#1. Maximizing the Joy-Money-Flow Model
The premise is that we’re not likely to be satisfied with work overall if it doesn’t bring us joy and/or allow us to pay the bills and/or challenge us at just the right level for us to get “lost in the work” from time-to-time. If one or more of these elements is missing, the choice(s) we’ve made is/are either unsustainable or will result in an extended state of personal and professional misery.
Chris does stress that there are a nearly-infinite number of ways of achieving balance across all three and that how we arrange our working lives is one of the most personal things we can do, whether we work for ourselves or for others. He provides ideas on how this can work and what we need to think about whether we’re a self-employed entrepreneur/freelancer, working for others or—even better—a blend of the two.
#2. Trying New Things & Eliminating What Doesn’t Work
According to Chris, an important part of the recipe for success in finding work we’re meant to do is to expose ourselves to various types of work and activities. We can expand the number and types of projects we’re involved in and then decide if we like the mix—what he calls an “umbrella” career—or whether we should eliminate some in favor of focusing on others (for more on this concept, you may like this post). Again, Chris doesn’t make a value judgment around what the “right” recipe is, only that it needs to be the right one for us.
Along the same lines, he also abhors the idea that we need to think of work along traditional lines (not surprising from a guy whose blog is called The Art of Non-Conformity). Chris cautions us to think for ourselves and resist this sense of obligation to keep doing what we’re doing. He effectively points out that our FOMO (fear of missing out) and the sunk cost fallacy are not sufficient reasons to keep our professional life as is and that, in fact, these can keep us from discovering the work or types of work we were meant to do.
Contrary to popular belief, if you want to win, you shouldn’t always just keep going. You should regroup and try something totally different. ‘Winners never quit, and quitters never win’ is a lie. To win, sometimes you need to find a new game to play. (pg. 302)
#3. How Savings (Money & Goodwill) Can Make All the Difference
This last point is likely my favorite: Chris is adamant about investing in savings of two types to help us along the way:
First, he addresses the issue of scarcity. A lack of money keeps us from making good decisions for ourselves. It’s a distraction that keeps us thinking short-term and doesn’t allow us to see and seize opportunity when it presents itself. It’s also what keeps many of us in jobs we don’t care for, sometimes in perpetuity. It’s no surprise that this makes him a big fan of both having an emergency fund and maintaining at least two streams of income (such as having a side hustle).
Then, he goes one step further and asks us to consider who will be there to support us in our time of need? He addresses the key role our personal and professional relationships play in our success. And he makes it clear that we should not be waiting until we need the support of this network to build it. The best time to build it, to help others out in whichever way we can, is when we don’t need the help ourselves. If or when the time comes for us to lean on this network, we’ll be pleased to have made the investment.
On both counts, he makes a strong point: how great is it to know we have banked resources we can tap into to live the way we were meant to live, doing the best type(s) of work for us and for those who benefit from our efforts.
The Bottom Line
“Born for This” is definitely a worthwhile read, even if you thoroughly enjoy what you do now. If you’re lucky to already feel that way, consider it as a reinforcer of good behavior, and food for thought for when you’ll need it in the future. Come to think of it, reading this book could be considered another type of worthwhile investment in our career success.
(His manifesto is worth the read for anyone who wonders whether he really walks the talk (and boy does he ever), in which he documents 279 days to his “overnight success” as an independent writer.)
For anyone looking to take a deeper dive on this topic, I’d suggest “The Element” by Ken Robinson. And for those wanting to understand why the way we’re working in the corporate world feels broken, I’d go with “The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working” by Tony Schwartz, “Drive” by Daniel Pink and “Why We Work” by Barry Schwartz.
Bonus: A Short Interview With Chris
Chris agreed to a short Q&A for us all. Here’s what he had to say:
Of all the projects you’ve been involved in over the years (and you list quite a few of them on pg. 252-3), which one was your favorite?
If I had to pick one thing it would be the World Domination Summit, which is now in its seventh year. Every summer, a team and I bring together a thousand or more remarkable people from all over the world. I had no idea how to produce events when we started (none of us did, now that I think about it) but now that we’ve hit a groove I find it very fun and meaningful. It’s also a lot of work, but that’s how life goes—the projects that challenge us are often the most purposeful.
What new thing(s) have you tried recently that have been beneficial to you and why?
Very good question. I feel like I’ve been doing a lot of things the same way for a while. In some ways that’s okay, because routine is conducive to productivity. In early 2017, though, I’m going to be making a number of big changes and even changing the primary medium I use to connect with my readers. I’ve been learning and planning for several months now, and I feel both nervous and excited about it.
What are you excited about these days?
Well, I’m excited about what I just mentioned—but also, earlier this year I did a 30-city tour to meet readers and it went very well. Everyone always says, “Isn’t that exhausting?” and I can say honestly that when I finished stop #30, I wished that I had 30 more lined up. So at some point next year, likely in the fall, I’ll be going back on the road for an even bigger tour. Even thinking about it now makes me happy.
What’s YOUR favorite book?
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