"Discover Joy in Work" by Shundrawn A. Thomas. A Review
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Vocational satisfaction and occupational gratification are extremely important to most people, while these usually stay at least two steps beyond their reach. I remember as a young man commencing adult life in the work place, grasping at straws and clasping for any help in this area I could get. Shundrawn A. Thomas, president of Northern Trust Asset Management, trustee of Wheaton College, author and lecturer, gives interested readers handy perspectives on attaining their desired aim in his new 224-page hardback, "Discover Joy in Work: Transforming Your Occupation into Your Vocation." Though the book seems small, it carries more weight than it's size lets on. Easy to read, and organized to be put aside for deeper reflection, this volume communicates nicely to those first launching into the workforce, as well as the seasoned staff member. In fact, this manual will "challenge you to engage in deep personal introspection, encourage you to have a healthy attitude when facing inevitable challenges, and inspire you to view your work as a calling or vocation" (11).
The book simply falls out into three sections: your workplace, your work ethic, and your work life. Simple, but not shallow. Each section is developed to cultivate a better way of seeing work through cultivating a better way of being in work. This is not a pep-talk, or motivational-speech-in-print. Thomas's straightforward approach on subjects such as discovering your talent, developing and deploying it, motivation, performance reviews, pride, praise, criticism, and so forth, makes this a book worth referring back to over the years ahead. But it also provides the employed with healthy measures that can, and should, be engaged immediately.
Of the many examples I could give on the value of this manuscript, I provide two that I found to be very advantageous. First, as Thomas is developing the idea of how work reveals our purpose, he notes that "we have the ability to give our work meaning. We give our work meaning by being purposeful. Being purposeful means to be fully determined to release your potential through your work" (131). But then he wisely lays out three countermeasures: (1) the vocational path you choose does not define you, though it does shape you; (2) the vocational direction you select does not determine your value, instead you create lasting value by doing purposeful work; and (3) your picked vocational route does not define your purpose, but doing purposeful work opens up the discovery of your purpose. At the end he concludes that wherever "here is, you are here on purpose. Your life is a deliberate choice by your Creator" (132). I know too many people who have crashed and burned because they saw their vocation as their definition. It ate them from the inside out, and like an old oak tree, they looked alive on the outside, but inside they were all hollow and unable to stay standing after the big thunderstorm swept through their life. How much healthier the way mapped out by Thomas!
A second example was the authors insightful recognition of four levels of maturity. There is intellectual maturity, which encompasses our ability to think and learn, developing critical reasoning skills, retention of knowledge, and better problem solving. Then, emotional maturity where we have grown in being able to manage our feelings, "knowing your emotions count, but they must not count too much. Emotional maturity leads you to a higher level of self-awareness" (154). Next is social maturity, which is bound up with our ability to relate to others. This includes empathy for others, understanding their feelings and experiences, growing in higher levels of cultural awareness, all of which build healthy working relationships. Lastly, spiritual maturity, where our faith and allegiance to truth develop in us a greater contentment "knowing you are valued by your Creator and not by what you create" (155-6). As I was reading and pondering this section of the book, I was reminded of many work examples of where I and others fell short of these traits, and how important they became in those who had them.
"Discover Joy in Work" is a class act! When as a young man starting out in the work world,most of what was available in that day happened to be positive mental attitude material; books written by Peale, Napoleon Hill, Zig Zigler, the early Tony Robbins, etc. I'm not saying anything derogatory about them or their work, but this book was the kind of substance I really needed. Positive, but also prudent; joyous while being judicious. To read this book is almost like having your own personal mentor sagely advising you as you seek to move upward and onward! I highly recommend "Discover Joy in Work"!
My appreciation goes out to IVP. I asked for a copy of this work to review, and they happily sent it. They made no demands. They took no hostages. They asked for no ransom. They simply left me to my own devices; thus, this appraisal is all my own, given under no duress.
The book can be purchased here: Discover Joy in Work
The author's website is here: https://shundrawnthomas.com/
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