It’s the end of work as we know it. Career paths look nothing like they did in the days before phones got smart. We work more hours at more jobs for more years than ever before. So it’s vital that we know how to find work that allows us to remain true to who we are in the deepest sense, work that connects us to something larger than ourselves—in short, our “calling.” We all have one, and bestselling authors Richard Leider and David Shapiro can help you uncover yours.
Through a unique Calling Card exercise that features a guided exploration of fifty-two “natural preferences” (such as Advancing Ideas, Doing the Numbers, Building Relationships, and Performing Events), Leider and Shapiro give us a new way to uncover our gifts, passions, and values and find work that expresses them. Along the way, they mix in dozens of inspiring true stories about people who have found, or are in the process of finding, their own callings.
Uncovering your calling enables you to experience fulfillment in all aspects and phases of your life. And here’s the even better news: you’ll never have to work again. When you choose to do what you are called to do, you’re always doing what you want to do. Work Reimagined offers an enlightening, effective, and entertaining approach to discovering what you were born to do, no matter your age or stage of life.
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About the Author
David A. Shapiro is the education director of the Northwest Center for Philosophy for Children, a nonprofit organization that brings philosophy into the lives of young people in schools and community groups. He is the author or coauthor of six books.
Read an Excerpt
Time flies. You get up in the morning, do your thing all day long, and go to bed at night.
Then you wake one day to find that more than two decades have passed—in barely a blink of an eye. Rip Van Winkle himself would be mightily impressed.
The changes that have taken place over the last twenty years or so are staggering: technology that did not even exist in the final part of the twentieth century has come and gone; grey hairs that were only emerging then have achieved dominance and turned white. The external world and its internal counterpart are radically different from then to now as the river of time flows on incessantly.
It is the end of work as we know it. Age-old models of working have broken down in the space of two decades; career paths look nothing like they did in the days before phones got smart.
And yet, there are perennial concerns that have remained steadfast. Questions like “What was I born to do?” and “What is my calling?” continue to intrigue us. The ongoing search for answers and the processes by which we explore are as vital and consuming as ever.
As coauthors and friends, we embarked on a journey together more than twenty years ago. Our first book, Repacking Your Bags: Lighten Your Load for the Good Life, represented the initial step in that journey. The central message of Repacking was that each of us needs to develop his or her own vision of the “good life”—which we defined as “living in the place you belong, with people you love, doing the right work, on purpose”—and having done so, must then “repack our bags” so that the only burdens we carry are those that really assist us in getting where we want to be.
What we did not fully realize at the time was how much “repacking” would become a vital life skill—not only for us individually, but for us in the broader world of work and relationships as well.
By examining our own lives and asking ourselves the question that started it all in Repacking: “Does all this make me happy?” we discovered, individually and together, that many of the choices we had made around place, work, relationships, and purpose were indeed contributing to our overall sense of well-being. But some of them needed to be reimagined and repacked. As a result, we have both made a number of significant changes in our lives—some external and others of a more introspective kind.
Richard reconceptualized his vision of both his executive coaching practice and his work as a partner in Inventure—The Purpose Company so that he could focus more on writing and speaking. His deepening understanding of his own sense of purpose and direction has led him to write and collaborate on numerous books and articles, most recently, his coauthorship with Alan Webber of the AARP-supported book Life Reimagined.
Dave gave up his career as a corporate consultant to earn a graduate degree in philosophy. For more than a decade now he has been a full-time college teacher, while continuing to pursue his passion for doing philosophy with elementary and middle school students, work that resulted in the publication of his most recent book, Plato Was Wrong! Footnotes on Doing Philosophy with Young People.
In the more than twenty years since Repacking came out, we have each done a good deal of repacking ourselves. We have both moved several times; Richard remarried and has become fully initiated into the rites of grandparenthood; Dave became a father and has managed to pay off his student loans just in time for his daughter to start accruing hers. Our lives have continued to unfold and to present us with new opportunities for shaping our own visions of the good life.
Through it all, we have carried on the discussion that led to Repacking. We have remained deeply intrigued by what it means to live a good life and what people really need to be happy. Our conversations on these issues have ranged far and wide; we have talked with each other, with colleagues and clients, with young children and older adults. To our initial surprise, the one component of the good life that has consistently come to the fore has been work. While we have seen that relationships, place, and purpose are essential to people’s overall sense of satisfaction, we have rediscovered the degree to which people’s feelings that they are—or are not—doing what they were “meant to do” impacts their overall life fulfillment.
This reality, coupled with what we have learned by interviewing many people who are doing what they were meant to, led us in 2001, to write our second book together, Whistle While You Work: Heeding Your Life’s Calling. Whereas Repacking was centered on an examination of all four components we considered necessary to the good life, Whistle focused on the challenge of discovering meaningful work.
And now, drawing upon that work and informed by another decade and a half of questioning and reflection, we have come to this book, Work Reimagined: Uncover Your Calling. The central notion we explore here is the deep hunger people feel to find meaningful work, work that allows us to express our gifts, and connects us to something larger than ourselves in purposeful ways—in short, the phenomenon of “calling.”
Uncovering our calling is what we have found best enables people to experience fulfillment in all phases of their lives. What may be most surprising is that if we can fully embrace our calling and consistently bring it to all that we do, then really for all intents and purposes, we never have to work again—at least insofar as we commonly identify work as something that is a chore, or which we only do to get paid. When we operate from a powerful sense of what we are called to do, then we are not, as the saying goes, simply making a living, we are making a life.
Writing this book together has been another incredible opportunity to express our callings. Each of us, in conducting interviews, facilitating seminars, teaching classes, having discussions, and putting our thoughts on paper has had the great good fortune of using our gifts and expressing our passions in service to something we value deeply. It has been a joyous experience even when—perhaps especially when—we were working the hardest. We offer this book as a token of our gratitude for being able to experience the power of calling in our own lives.
In order to live the life we imagine, we must continually reimagine it. In order to do work that makes such a life possible, we must regularly rediscover and reimagine our calling. Our ongoing conversations about calling have enriched our lives immeasurably and offer every promise of continuing to do so. We welcome you to participate in these conversations yourself and to experience the joy and fulfillment that follows from doing what you are called to do.
Richard J. Leider
David A. Shapiro
Table of ContentsForeword by Jo Ann Jenkins
INTRODUCTION: The End of Work As We Know It
CHAPTER 1: Reimagining WorkWhat Do You Do?
CHAPTER 2: Reimagining CallingShould You Quit Your Day Job?
CHAPTER 3: Reimagining GiftsHow Do You Do It?
CHAPTER 4: Reimagining PassionsWhy Do You Do It?
CHAPTER 5: Reimagining ValuesWhere Do You Do It?
CHAPTER 6: Reimagining LegacyHave You Played Your Music?
About the Authors