Think Differently About Work

Work. Monday through Friday. Getting up in the morning. Heading to a state of mind that wants to hurriedly get through the day’s tasks. Paying attention to the clock, constantly. Five o’clock strikes. Finally we can start the day we actually want to live.

That’s balancing work and life.

As this is a typical mindset for a lot of us, stepping back and thinking about the picture that was just painted is disgraceful. What’s essential to understand is that the work you do—whether you find joy in it or not—is your life.

Those moments are part of how your life is defined.

It’s an utter shame to think that when you leave your home and enter the office, your life shuts off. It isn’t until the clock strikes five that your life can resume again. We spend a third of our lives at the workplace. Thinking that the time spent at your job isn’t part of your life as a whole is a life not lived well.

Regardless if you sit in a cubicle or you are under the basking sun all day, there are clues in the things you do that hold meaning. There’s a way to make a difference through the work you do.

As we find ourselves in the middle of a “choose yourself economy“, we must remind ourselves how to live a life we love. That includes the work we do day in and day out.

Here are three books that will shift your perspective in seeing the work you do a little bit differently.

Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?

The industrial age brought about a compliance in which we as employees must follow; the rules. Following the rules exactly as they are written creates a line of cogs in an assembly line, numb to their work.

Through mindless repetition we are able to meet production goals. This is true for working environments far and wide from manufacturing; schools, office settings, construction and more.

What Seth Godin discusses is fighting back against your lizard brain. The portion of the brain that drives you to a safe and comfortable place conforming to a system. Being indispensable is operating on the fringes. It’s pouring your authentic self into the work you do. As you do this, you are no longer defined by your job.

Every day I meet people who have so much to give but have been bullied enough or frightened enough to hold it back. It’s time to stop complying with the system and draw your own map. You have brilliance in you, your contribution is essential, and the art you create is precious. Only you can do it, and you must…

Your real work then, what you might be paid for, and what is certainly your passion, is simple; the work. The work is feeding and amplifying and glorifying the daemon. Your work is to create art that changes things, to expose your insight and humanity in such a way that you are truly indispensable. Your work is to do the work, not to do your job. Your job is about following instructions; the work is about making a difference. Your work is to ship. Ship things that make change. — Seth Godin

Fred 2.0: New Ideas on How to Keep Delivering Extraordinary Results

Fred Shea, a mailman, is passionate about his job. He treats those on his mail route as close friends. In the process, he turns an ordinary job into something truly extraordinary. The story of Fred exemplifies that the very notion of work/life balance doesn’t necessarily exist.

Work and life are not separate things. The work that makes up your day is your life. Tweet this

The more you approach your work with the mindset of this is my life the bigger the difference you can make. You can either numb yourself and wither away during your working hours for the next 40 years. Or, you can go to work giving it the best version of yourself. This approach can turn something ordinary into something truly extraordinary.

Mark Sanborn has been observing Fred’s life for more than 20 years. As Fred leads an extraordinary life through ordinary work, Mark was able to distill from it four “Fred” principles:

  1. Everybody can make a difference.
  2. Relationships are vital.
  3. It’s possible to add value in every area.
  4. You can keep reinventing yourself.

Better is the most important step to becoming your best. If you want to be your best, you need to start by getting better. Start doing better. Good, better, best. That’s how it works…. We are responsible for living in a way that shows others who we truly are and what we believe. Mark Sanborn

The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles

Being a cog in the workplace suffocates your truest potential. More disheartening, it suffocates the very thing that makes you you.

You have a life worth living to its fullest. That mindset must also bleed over to the work you do. Regardless of what you do, how you do it is the underlining difference in living a life you love versus coasting, just to get to the weekend.

Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands resistance… Are you a writer who doesn’t write, a painter who doesn’t paint, an entrepreneur who never starts a venture? Then you know what Resistance is. Steven Pressfield

With resistance standing in your way, it prevents you from doing the work your are meant to do. Or the work that brings about your truest self and feeling the freedom to pour your DNA into the work you do.

The output is different when you pour yourself into the work. It’s more meaningful and genuine. Ultimately, it’s a benefit for both you and your employer, it’s more valuable. At the same time, you let resistance, or procrastination, stand in the way of the work you need to be doing, regardless of what it is or who it’s for.

The most pernicious aspect of procrastination is that it can become a habit. We don’t just put off our lives today; we put them off till our deathbed…

Never forget: this very moment, we can change our lives. There never was a moment, and never will be, when we are without the power to alter our destiny. This second, we can turn the tables on Resistance. This second, we can sit down and do our work. Steven Pressfield

These three books have shaped who I am today. They’ve all played a part in how I approach my work. However, it isn’t until you take intentional action towards doing these things in making them part of who you are.

The most daunting realization for me was when I noticed I wasn’t putting forth my best work. The best work that stems from letting go of outside influences and solely concentrating on pouring myself into the work that I do. Realizing that I wasn’t making the most of the moments when away from the thing I cherish most, my family. With this realization, guilt immediately took over my body.

I felt guilty going to work and not putting forth my best work, my art. Not utilizing the time away from my family with the best of intentions and not putting forth the best version of myself.

Moments go wasted when you act as a cog behind a desk. Pumping out status quo after status quo. When moments go wasted, the reality is, life is wasting.

Each and every moment during your working life are all moments that make up your life. They ultimately make up who you are and who you become. The things you do during the day finds it’s way home with you. Good, bad, ugly; it’s a shadow that lingers with you. If treated unintentionaly darkness tends to find its way in.

Surrender to your work. When you let go and pour yourself into your work, you just may start to see it a little bit differently. You start to realize that these are the seeds being planted for your future self.

It’s your legacy.

It’s Here! The Unless You Care manifesto print is now available—designed for personal change. Order yours today!

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About Eric Ungs

Eric Ungs writes about a journey of intentional self growth, nudging you to let go; to give yourself permission to be vulnerable and honest with yourself so you can give your best self to others. Author of 10 Incredible Ways to Live a Fulfilling and Joyful Life ebook.


  1. James Ball

    Eric, have you seen the documentary “Jiro Dreams of Sushi” on Netflix yet? It really is a fascinating look at someone who has thrown himself into his work heart and soul. Of course, Jiro is a bit of an extreme case. He sacrificed any semblance of family life in order to get where he is, but there are still some lessons we can learn from him, namely about “loving the one you’re with” instead of searching endlessly for that magic bullet that’s going to make everything alright one day.

    And thanks for the book recommendations. “Linchpin” looks like one to add to the ever-growing reading pile.

    1. Eric Ungs

      Thanks James for the recommendation. I have not seen that documentary. I’ll have to check it out. Yes, take a look at Linchpin, Seth has such a fascinating mind. It’s a great read. Enjoy! And thanks!

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