Monday, September 23, 2019

Zen and the Art of Making a Living - Laurence G. Boldt

Vinod gifted this book to me a long time ago and I made several attempts to read and imbibe this. But I could not make much progress. I would go some distance and then I would get completely confused. As I realised later, the first part is too abstract and completely messes up the plot. It is a 600 page tome.

It is broadly divided into four ACTS. The prologue deals with the Art of Life's work, ACT 1 with the Quest for Life's work, ACT II with the Game of Life's work, ACT III with the Battle for Life's Work and ACT IV with the School of Life's Work. They are as vague and boring as they sound, espeically the first few chapters. As a saving grace, Boldt, embellished the book with proverbs and suggests we could just read it for the quotes It could well be the best part of the book. Before getting rid of it, I added it to a list of books that I decided to give a day's read, however big and formidable they may be, and no more. And this is what I learned.

Up from in the way of the artist he says that the way of the artist is through Trust, Psyche, Society and Nature as opposed to the way of the Little King which is just the opposite. He talks of the ISEE way - Integrity (who am I), Service (how can I live in integrity, how can I make the world better), Enjoyment (What do I love to do) and Excellence (what can I dedicate enough to pursue excellence). He says we must use these principles and craft the story of our life.

In the Quest for our Life's Work he says we must ask vision questions - what;'s the vision for the world, nation, community. Then we must clarify our top 5 values and crat a mission statement. Be clear about how many you want to reach and how deeply - how do you want to serve, whom, how many people. What's the purpose of your work, He asks us to target talents and defines talents as those that we enjoy doing. Create an exhaustive talent list and identify the top 10 talents. Then integrate talents and your purpose. Next, make mission objectives - transform visions into goals. Don't fear failure, rejection, reality, losing, pain, commitment and not being in control he says. By the end of ACT 1 we have a mission, work purpose, top 10 talents and we must integrate them,

In the Game of Life's work, he says make sure the choice is your own. Get out of the approval trap. Screen test yourself in your chosen career and see whether you fit or not. Test it out - a day in the life of that career. Meet people, intern and get a better idea. If you like it, check for skills needed and acquire them.

In the Battle for Life's work he says find a way, keep at it. Fight it out. Rather simple.

It is after so much vague stuff put even more vaguely that he comes to the crux of the matter. Choose your marketing strategy he says - Product, Package, Price, Promotion. That could well be you as well.
If you choose entrepreneurship, he says make a business outline, check out the competition, do a SWOT analysis, know your market, assemble a team, choose a legal structure, raise money, monitor and concentrate your energy and resources. He gives a format for making a business plan.

If you are looking for a job, he says first ask yourself what do you want from the job, what is your criteria for employees, research organisations, select and approach. If you don't like them, create a job and get a foot in the door. If you want to be streetsmart he says network, use publicity, get better at proposal writing an at negotiation. Develop contacts with mentors, peers, superiors, subs and others. Create a team mastermind. He also says one must be sharp, prompt, trustworthy, honesty, responsible, prepared. To learn admit your ignorance.

In the school of life's work, he says create a life image - old image versus the new image. Enlist support and do what you love doing.

He says it is never late to change your career and gives a list of people who trained to be something else and became good and something else. There are transition strategies. Towards the end he talks of the Psychology of scarcity and of plenty.

Overall, it's too much time spent on this book for me though it does make a person think. It's all over the place and could have been 300 pages shorter. That said it has a lot of value for young students out to set out on careers.

Some of the quotes I liked

When one happens on a book of this kind, he is well advised to throw it away - Shuan
(This I should have followed)

Change and growth take place when a person has risked himself and dares to become involved with experimenting with his own life. - Herbert Otto

Too many people spend money they haven't earned, to buy things they don't want, to impress people they don't like. - Will Rogers

Come out of the circle of time, and into the circle of love. - Rumi

It is preoccupation with possessions, more than anything else, that prevents us from living freely and nobly. Bertrand Russell

This time, like all times, is a very good one, if we but know what to do with it. - Emerson

Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go. - T.S. Eliot

Know the masculine, keep the feminine. - Lao Tzu

Nothing divides one so much as thought. - Reginald Blyth

Artists in each of the arts seek after and care for nothing but love. - Marsilio Fincio

Art if the proper task of life - Friedrich Nietzche

The purpose of the whole (work) is to remove those who are living in this life from a state of wretchedness and lead them to the state of blessedness. - Dante

When nations grow old, the Arts grow cold, And commerce settles on every tree.  - William Blake

I think the person who takes a job in order to live - that is to say, just for money - has turned himself into a slave. - Joseph Campbell

Art always has something of the unconscious about it. - D.T. Suzuki

To know oneself, one should assert oneself. - Albert Camus

The Tao's principle is spontaneity - Lao Tzu

The work will teach you how to do it. - Estonian proverb

Love is love's reward - John Dryden

To have great poets there must be great audiences - Walt Whitman

Many more, but enough.

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