Mini Book Review: Body of Work
Body of Work: Finding the Thread That Ties Your Story Together by Pamela Slim
When trying to explain what this book is all about to a colleague, I noticed that we don't seem to have a good expression for "body of work" in German. "Lebenswerk", your life's work, comes close but is too depressingly retrospective.
Actually, there is a bit of retrospective involved here. Pam Slim encourages you to take a look at what you've accomplished in your life so far, but to also imagine where you want to go. The motivation being that some day, when you've reached that point where you look back at your life's work, you'd be able to say "Yes, this is what I wanted to do." But you're not there yet - it's still time to steer things in the right direction. This book promises to help you with this goal.
Now, I'm usually a bit reluctant about all these self-help books of pretty much any kind. They're often very hype-y, postulate "new and better" methods, try to cheer you on but often fall short in terms of applicable, practical advice.
I've taken one of Pam Slim's online courses in the past (Power Teaching, which helped me immensely when creating my own workshop), so I know her style and that it works for me.
After defining what that "body of work" is all about, the book takes you through the steps of looking where you're coming from, what you have to offer and how you work. Once you have a clearer picture of yourself and your actual goals, the book explores ways to get you to where you want to be - overcoming the inevitable fear that's involved with this undertaking, collaborating with others (like-minded people as well as mentors and influencers), and finding a definition of what success would actually mean for you.
I realise that when listing it like that, it may all sound a bit esoteric; much like the "other" books that I criticised above. But what Pam Slim is actually doing is more concrete than it may sound at first. She starts each section with a motivational, personal, real-life example and then uses that to analyse and explain how and why it worked; and, most importantly, what you can learn from it for your situation. Also, each chapter is rounded off with a worksheet that will help you find the answers for your specific case.
"Body of Work" is one of the calmer, subtler self-help books; which comes with the topic, I guess. It's also full of sound advice which is not just thrown at you but comes with a bit of background and fits into an overall concept. Even if you do not plan to change your direction or follow all the advice, reading "Body of Work" will make you think about what you have accomplished in your life so far and will help you realise that if you wanted to, you could change where things are heading. If you are happy with how things are, then the book doesn't scream at you to change your life nonetheless (like some of the others in this genre do). Instead, it will help you reassure you of your decision.