Why We Work by Barry Schwartz – Book Review

This is the book I can’t stop talking about, and can’t stop recommending.  If you haven’t read it, read it now.  It’s short.  This is the book that will get you out of a career slump or burnout.  This is the book that will make you remember why you love going to work.  This is the book that will help you find meaning in any activity, no matter how menial it seems.  I read it on my way to the ALA Annual Conference, and I managed to bring it up in conversation several times a day.  I can’t wait to re-read it, and I can’t wait to own my own copy.

Why We Work is a thought-provoking exploration of the intrinsic and extrinsic motivations that drive going to work and doing a good job.  References and ties together many excellent works about learning, thinking, and working.  An excellent overview of several concepts which I had not thought to tie together but which influence the psychology of being at work and the desire to do a good job.  I found Schwartz’s distinction between job, career, and calling to be both revelatory and easy to understand.  This book offers some tools and individual can use to improve how they think about their own work, and ways to enjoy work more, but the real critique is aimed at how we as members of society or as business managers think. The way we frame how we think about work in general can trickle down through our whole work experience, and the wrong frame or motivations can poison the whole well.

I will definitely be seeking out more TED books.


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