This summer I tore through quite a bit of nonfiction. These are a few of the books that inspired me to be as awesome as possible at my work and at any other endeavor to which I commit.
Start: Escape Average, Punch Fear in the Face, Do Work that Matters by Jon Acuff
Jon Acuff is, at times, pretty hilarious. This book was a quick read and always entertaining.
Acuff outlines his “Five Stages to Awesome”:
These stages are not tied to how old we are, but to our level of passion for and engagement with a particular experience or skill. In Acuff’s words, “Retirement is dead,” so no one needs to think that we can’t start with the learning process at any time of our lives. In fact, most of us will move through the stages of awesome multiple times with multiple projects (or at least, ideally we will).
Acuff argues that we shouldn’t follow someone else’s idea of awesome, a difficult concept for people pleasers like me. I have to be a student of myself to figure out what my passions are and to recognize what I need to edit because it drains my energy and generally makes me tired.
I find myself, at this point in my engagement with teaching, moving between the stages of editing and mastering, but then again, I’m also always learning. So I think of my career as having a general trajectory of awesome and then smaller milestones of awesome as I learn new skills or refine and rethink classroom practices.
The Icarus Deception by Seth Godin
My newest author of whom I can’t seem to read enough, is Seth Godin. I’m so glad I found Godin because I was nearly bereft that I had finished all of Malcolm Gladwell’s work.
In The Icarus Deception, Godin discusses the difference between what he calls the “industrial economy” of years past and the “connection economy” of today.
From what I’ve seen of reviews online, if you want to start with Seth Godin, you should probably start with this book. It seems that some of Godin’s biggest fans were disappointed and felt that this book was a rehash of many of his most popular ideas. Since this was the first of his books I read, I loved it. Also, I don’t really mind reading the same ideas in multiple books: that helps the ideas solidify in my mind.
Plus I get almost all of my books from the public library.
Godin claims that the years of workers living as cogs in the giant machines of the industrial age are over. We all now need to work like artists, no matter what our positions. We don’t all have to start our own businesses or open studios: whatever our line or work, whatever our chosen passions, we can work like artists where we already are.
And if we can’t be artists where we are, we need to find places where we can.
At the beginning of this school year, I wrote about why I think teachers should teach like artists, despite the many pressures to conform to the obsolete life of cogs in machines. It is a mindset that has been both healing and inspiring.
“It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?” is a meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey. It’s a great way to keep track of what you’re reading and see what others are reading each week.