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Posted April 29, 2001
The Paradox of Success
This book clearly deserves more than 5 stars. It is Professor Robert Reich's best book, and the first to go beyond Professor Peter Drucker's thinking about the future of 'knowledge' work. It is well written, and designed to stir a debate and self-examination . . . rather than answer all of the questions in an opinionated way. Nicely done! In sharing an epiphany that he had, Professor Reich describes the trap of success that he ran into as Secretary of Labor for President Clinton. 'My problem was that I loved my job and couldn't get enough of it.' Sounds okay so far, doesn't it? Well, read on. ' . . . [A]ll other parts of my life shriveled into a dried raisin.' He quit after calling to tell his children that he would not be home before bedtime for the sixth night in a row, and he son begged him to wake the son during the night simply for the comfort of knowing his father was in the house. As a result of having had that experience and happily changing his life balance, 'I am writing here about making a living and making a life . . . [and it's] geting harder to do both.' The book is an excellent summation of the reasons why the most successful people typically work the longest hours and the most intensely. Trends suggest that this imbalance is likely to get worse. Basically, the current economy puts a huge premium on finding new, creative solutions whether as a technologist, designer of new business models, new product conceptualizer, or marketer. Most people cannot synthesize all of those roles into one person -- the perfect entrepreneur. Those who can are even more valuable. The digital society vastly increases the rewards for these innovations by making them available to more people faster. Much of this new work is 'creative' rather than 'knowledge' work. I think that distinction is a useful one that should be retained in examining the subject. Some of the consequences of this situation are that personal lives are disappearing under the waves of career. Loyalty to anything but the current assignment is modest. Family life is shriveling. Naturally, that may be what you want. Or is it? The book culminates in suggesting that each person more consciously consider the personal choices of how to allocate time. In addition, there is a choice that society must make about how hard to pursue economic opportunity versus creating a more balanced connection among people. The ultimate strivers tend to hang out and live with each other, and have less and less contact with those who are not the top performers. It is a new form of elitism that can undermine many of our social mores. He suggests that we think about this choice in both economic and moral terms. In both cases he finds, 'It's a question of a balanced society.' My own experience is that it's good to step back from concentration, even if your goal is only to achieve economically. That seems to give your subconscious time to come up with better solutions. I also suspect that many people end up overcommitted to work because they do not have the skill to insulate themselves from work. That isn't taught anywhere. You have to learn it on your own. Unfortunately, many people have to crash andWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 19, 2001
This is an excellent book if you are interested in understanding what the changes resultant from technological advances will mean to you in the future as a worker, spouse, parent or a member of this society. This is an extremely well written book. I recomend it to all. Robert Reich explains the reasons why many of the events that we are watching in today's society are taking place. As I read his book I constantly found myself nodding in agreement.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 31, 2010
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