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How We Work: Live Your Purpose, Reclaim Your Sanity, and Embrace the Daily Grind Hardcover – March 13, 2018
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“I have long thought that what the Buddha taught can be seen as a highly developed science of mind which, if made more accessible to a lay audience, could benefit many people. I believe that Dr. Weiss’s book, in combining such insights with science and good business practice, offers an effective mindfulness based program that many will find helpful.” (His Holiness, The Dalai Lama)
“How We Work will change not just how you approach your job, but it could well change your life. A mix of the practical and the philosophical, Leah Weiss explores this topic in a manner that is both unique and refreshing.” (Abraham Verghese, author of Cutting For Stone)
“An antidote to burnout and toxic workplaces can help transform the daily grind into the things that most uplift and sustain us: meaningful contribution and a sense of belonging. How We Work offers practical strategies for bringing courage, purpose, and compassion to our work.” (Kelly McGonigal, PhD, author of The Willpower Instinct and The Upside of Stress)
“How We Work gets to the heart of the work-life dilemmas we all face: the push-pull of professional and personal, of not enough hours in the day to do it all. Leah Weiss offers simple, practical tools that can help anyone keep calm amid the chaos and remember why they’re doing it in the first place. If you have a job, this book is for you.”
(Laura Vanderkam, Author of I Know How She Does It)
“As lifelong student of mindfulness, a lauded business school teacher, thought leader, and working mother, I can’t think of anyone more qualified to write a book about bringing purpose to the workplace than Leah Weiss. Her thoughtful, wise, and practical book is certain to change lives.” (Thupten Jinpa, PhD, Buddhist scholar and author of A Fearless Heart: How the Courage to be Compassionate Can Transform Our Lives)
“If you want work to work for you, read this book. If you wonder what your true work is, read this book.” (Jon Kabat-Zinn, author of Full Catastrophe Living and Coming to Our Senses)
About the Author
Leah Weiss, PhD, is a researcher, professor, consultant, and author. She teaches courses on compassionate leadership at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and is principal teacher and founding faculty for Stanford’s Compassion Cultivation Program, conceived by the Dalai Lama. She also directs Compassion Education and Scholarship at HopeLab, an Omidyar Group research and development nonprofit focused on resilience. She lives in Palo Alto, California with her husband and three children.
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In “How We Work: Live Your Purpose, Reclaim Your Sanity, and Embrace the Daily Grind” Leah Weiss tells us how our “scarcity mindset” is affecting our lives at work and at home, and actually keeping us from finding the fulfillment we so crave.
We are unhappy and unsatisfied with our jobs. We work long hours, skip vacations, come in when we are sick and are generally stressed out and fed up. Busyness a status symbol, even though there is plenty of data to show that it actually reduces productivity and increases stress and associated risks.
Lean suggests we write ourselves a personal mission statement, and then consider how our personal statement intersects with our daily work. For example: a janitor in a hospital can see that her daily work of reducing the potential for infection in the wards could save many lives, reduce the risk of infection and outbreaks in the community. Her work serves a larger purpose and her own mission statement to make a difference in the world.
Each of us can find purpose in what we do, once we uncover what our mission is in this world. To do that, we have to stop and see our connection with the bigger picture, to pay attention to the mindset we are in right now and how it aligns with our higher purpose.
If you think your job is meaningless and irrelevant. Then it IS.
In the book, Leah walks us through the steps to really defining your purpose. TRY it.
The book is divided into three sections:
Part 1: Having a Purpose at Work
Here the author extolls the value of mindfulness in the workplace (and in life). By taking self-responsibility for our actions/reactions and working with Purpose, we can begin to heal personally and professionally.
Part 2: Bringing Our Whole "Selves" to the Office
Cultivating compassion for others and nurturing oneself are key to changing our perspective and integrating life and work. There is also a chapter on the wisdom of emotions that moves beyond suppression as an unhealthy coping mechanism to mindfulness strategies for embracing emotional intelligence.
Part 3: Failing and Reflecting
Reflection is the hallmark of success - not the lack of failure. The ability to individually and collectively pause, step back and reflect promotes seeing experience and behaviors from a different perspective and to move forward with a more open, creative stance.
While I enjoyed the book and the author clearly has a talent for presenting her timely message, I did not find anything innovative in the chapters. If you are new to the whole arena of progressive personal and professional management, this is a great primer. However, if you have been engaged in this literature over the past 20 years, you may find it a great reference book, but not necessarily inspiring. Nevertheless, this is a message that is really needed in our current political/business milieu and I recommend it for anyone seeking a greater purpose whether you have a "job," a "career," or a "calling."
This is what Rachel Weiss has in mind in this passage: "What many people don't realize is that two goals -- a paycheck and a sense of purpose -- need not be mutually exclusive. And yet many if us 'are not engaged' or worse -- truly suffering. The paradox is that being mindful of our experience of work, even to our dissatisfaction, disengagement, and ambivalence, is the first step toward turning it around. Indeed, paying attention to our feelings is the very definition of mindfulness."
She then observes: "Prototype, experimentation, and informed redesign -- the contemporary Western system for innovative thinking known as 'design thinking' that is de rigueur all over Silicon Valley -- has a surprising analog in a two-thousand-year-old Tibetan system called darma sum. Literally, and rather poetically, darma sum means 'good in the beginning, good in the middle, and good in the end.' This three-part mindfulness training instruction applies to everything we do or want to do. Not coincidentally, I think, both design thinking and darma sum trace the basic structure of another famous learning strategy: the hypothesis, experimentation, and conclusion of the scientific method."
As I think about all this, I am again reminded of how the mind (what the brain does) can be developed -- over time -- to integrate reason, intuition, and emotion with the five senses in ways and to an extent that artificial intelligence cannot equal, much less surpass.
These are among the dozens of other passages that also caught my eye, shared to suggest the scope of Weiss's coverage:
o Skills: Soft vs. Hard (Pages 29-33)
o Three Kinds of Mindfulness (42-61)
o Meta-Cognition (52-59)
o Purpose Makes Your Job More Satisfying (66-70)
o Purpose Makes Us Healthier (71-75)
o Articulating Your Purpose (82-87)
o Radical Prioritization (90-94)
o What Is Compassion? (99-110)
o Connecting across Differences (116-121)
o What Is Self-Compassion? (125-140)
o Self-Compassion and Self-Esteem (143-146)
o Managing Emotions: What Doesn't Work (152-159)
o Mindfulness Strategies for Emotional Regulation (162-166)
o What Is Reflection? (179-1870
o Elements of Courage (204-215)
o Managerial Moral Courage (216-222)
o Leader-Initiated Approaches (227-252)
I am also commend Weiss on her skillful use of Mini-Commentaries as well as "Accomplish This" interactive exercises throughout include:
o Define Your Purpose (Page 70)
o Practicing Compassion Toward Others (108-109)
o Accelerator Moment (136-137)
o Self-Compassion (142-143)
o Identify the Ladder of Inference (161-162)
o Walking Meditation (166-167)
o Quick Ways to Access Mindfulness at Work (171-172)
o Change Your Interpretation (180-181)
o Applying Reflection Practices (197-198)
o Taking Inventory of Fear (207-208
o Staying on Track (214-215)
o Motivating with Purpose (219)
o Cultivating Responsibility (223)
At one point, Weiss observes: "Prototype, experimentation, and informed redesign -- the contemporary Western system for innovative thinking known as 'design thinking' that is de rigueur all over Silicon Valley -- has a surprising analog in a two-thousand-year-old Tibetan system called darma sum. Literally, and rather poetically, darma sum means 'good in the beginning, good in the middle, and good in the end.' This three-part mindfulness training instruction applies to everything we do or want to do. Not coincidentally, I think, both design thinking and darma sumtrace the basic structure of another famous learning strategy: the hypothesis, experimentation, and conclusion of the scientific method."
It would be an excellent idea to have a lined notebook near at hand while reading this book in order to record questions, comments, and page references as well as completing various exercises. Doing this will facilitate, indeed expedite frequent review of key material later.
Obviously, no brief commentary such as mine could possibly do full justice to the abundance of information, insights, and counsel that is provided in this book. However, I hope I have at least indicated why I think so highly of Leah Weiss and her work. I agree with her: "The path to productivity and success is not to change jobs, to compartmentalize our feelings, or to create a false 'professional' identity but rathe to listen to the wisdom of our feelings offer."