How can we navigate the many changes in the workplace and still love our work? This post is a short book review of Love Your Work: 4 Practical Ways to Pivot to Your Best Career by Robert Dickie III. The author has served as a decorated Air Force officer, CEO of an international company, and leader of several nonprofits. He was the President of Crown Financial Ministry from 2011-2018. Currently, he is the the CEO of Bonvera, a premium health and wellness company.
The premise of the book is that the world of work is undergoing a radical transformation. Many older industries are experiencing a lack of job growth in recent years while new ones are booming. As a result, we need to learn new skills and upgrade ourselves in order to stay relevant.
Here are 3 things I’ve learned from the book:
1. Pivoting in The 4 Career Quadrants
This is the essential core message of the book. To stay relevant in the new world of work, we need to constantly ‘pivot’. The author proposes that there are 4 zones – quadrants – in our career journey where we need to pivot. The 4 zones are Reinvention, Revectoring, Repurposing, and Renewal.
We no longer have passion for our job, and opportunity for advancement and further success is limited. (E.g. sunset industries)
When this happens, we need to have the courage to make a drastic pivot, learn new skills and move into a new industry.
We still love what we do and find our purpose and calling in it. However, due to market changes, the opportunities are limited or decreasing.
When this happens, we leverage what we know and are good at. This puts us in a better place where there is greater opportunity.
We have all the opportunities for future growth and advancement, but no passion for the work.
In this zone, we proactively seek out the work that is in alignment with our skills, passion, and true calling in life.
We are maximising our passions/skills/purpose in life and are full of energy and excitement. We are also in a zone of high opportunity and impact, with our needs and advancement both taken care of.
In this zone, we need to be constantly in a state of personal development and learning. Otherwise, we can fall into one of the other 3 zones.
Understanding where we are in these 4 zones or “Quadrants” helps us identify what is the next best step to take. The goal is always to move towards a zone of renewal, so that we can maximize our passion, skills, and opportunity.
This bears some semblances to my idea of finding the center of our calling in this post. Ideally, we want to be in a place where our Abilities, Affinity, Access to opportunities, and Awareness of human needs converge. What I learned from the author’s framework is the specific action we can take to reach the sweet spot (Renewal) and to stay there.
2. A Holistic View of Work
Another insight from the book is the author’s faith-filled worldview toward work. God designed work to be inherently good, and not something that we loathe and can’t wait to finish.
“Work is positive, a way to create and add value to the world. It is a redemptive force in society. Economies thrive, advancements are made, people are provided for, and a virtuous cycle of improvement is a rising tide that lifts all ships in the harbor. Work is not a punishment, but an activity where we not only can provide for our needs but also gain self-worth by the activity from our hands. Most importantly, when we are in alignment with how we were created, we have the ability to restore the world around us through our efforts.”– Robert Dickie
The faith-based worldview of the author grounded his advice as to how we can navigate the changing landscape of work, without losing ourselves in the process. One helpful point that the author provides was our attitude toward failure.
3. Failure is Opportunity for Success
In this book, the author recounted several examples of failures that taught him much in the journey of his career. Because we live and work in a sin-filled, fallen world, we can expect to experience failure. Yet because we ultimately work to serve God and steward our gifts and skills He has given us, our failures are never final. Instead, they are opportunities for growth (the phrase he used was “opportunity for success”). We can always learn from and leverage our failures.
There was an interesting (and funny) story about how, as a junior officer, he once ran a military vehicle into a swamp while going on an ad-hoc road trip. That apparent career disaster became a learning experience for him and the other officers to come up with solutions to pull out the vehicle. The team eventually leveraged this incident and positioned it as a problem-solving training program in the Army.
Reframing our experiences is a very helpful approach in life. For those who are Christians, if we live by faith in a God who loves us and is in control of all things, then we know that our experiences ultimately serve to form us in Christlikeness (Romans 8:28-29). So no failures are dead-ends in themselves but can be redeemed for God’s glory and our edification.
My thoughts on the book
The author writes in a very inspiring and winsome style, weaving stories of real-life examples (including his own), and sharing his personal insights and experiences in a candid manner. One of the memorable accounts he shared was how he realized how his drivenness and workaholism are affecting his family and faith. After much soul-searching, he pivoted to leading nonprofit organizations and restored balance and health to his family life and his faith.
The content is helpful for people who are:
- newly entering the workforce,
- affected by the changing trends in the workplace, or
- in a midst of a mid-career transition.
It provides very practical advice for researching the latest developments in work (e.g. technology, data science, green energy), as well as coping with the feeling of “getting stuck”.
Perhaps my only qualm with the book is that not every chapter is directly connected to the title, “Love Your Work”. Sometimes I feel that the book is a collection of the author’s thoughts about work. Chapters 1 and 2 were personally quite disjointed for me. Chapter 1 provides several statistics about changing work trends and slowing job growth, and gives quick-paced answers about how we can catch up to the trends. Chapter 2 suddenly slows in pace as the author reflects on God’s vision for work and how it can be restorative. I also feel that the core idea of ‘4 ways to pivot’ also has little to do with loving our work.
For this, I will give a 4 out of 5-star rating.
For those who are more acquainted with heavier reading on the theology of vocation and work, Dickie’s book may come across as a little light compared with some of the great works out there. Nevertheless, it can serve as a primer, particularly if the reader is new to this area of reading.
This post is part of my column on Book Reviews, where I share some of the insights gleaned from my reading. Feel free to check out the other blog posts on books that have influenced me significantly.