A few months back, Pam Slim's publisher sent me an advanced copy of her book Body of Work: Finding the Thread that Ties Your Story Together. Today is the official publication day -- you owe it to yourself to buy a copy, as reading it is a great way to start the new year.
I was struck by how useful, engaging, and downright fun that Body of Work was to read. For starters, Pam applies a compelling frame -- as the title says -- where she advises that each of us would be better off as thinking of our career as a body of work rather than climbing a ladder or taking the path to the top. I found that so simple and so powerful -- both because I think it is a more accurate frame, and because it focuses attention on what gives each of us intrinsic joy, not just on the competitive nature of work and the money. It is very much what I've picked up from Pixar's Ed Catmull -- if you focus on doing work you are proud of, your odds of having financial success and recognition go way up, and -- no matter what -- you will feel proud and engaged as you travel through your days.
Beyond that compelling frame, the book is filled with all kinds of wonderful advice and checklists. Chapters touch on everything from "Define Your Roots, to "Choose Your Work Mode," to "Your Definition of Success." My favorite is "Surf the Fear." Pam shows how it is inevitable, how to use fear and adversity to spur your growth, how to deal with unexpected and nasty surprises, and how to overcome distress and procrastination.
Finally, as with most readers, I don't just look for a useful parade of facts an tips when I read a book like this, I want to enjoy getting to know the person who is writing it a bit. Pam's book is filled with stories from various experiences, both personal and professional, and even more important than that, Pam's enthusaisim, her ability to deal with the problem at hand but not to take it all too seriously, and generally be the kind of person you trust and like comes through in every page of this gem.
I just ordered a copy for my 21 year-old daughter who is in her senior of college -- it is a great book for her as contemplates the body of work she wants to build. But it is a great book for any of us at every career stage because it is so useful, and as I have said, such a delightful read. It will make you feel good about yourself, while, at the same time, show the path to achieving a kind of success that will please you -- not just others.