Book: Why We Work
Author: Barry Schwartz
1. What made me want to read this book?
If you’ve been reading my blog since the beginning, you’ve probably noticed that one of my goals is to discover the secret(s) of being happy. This is why I interview college students and read books and ask questions. I want to know what it takes for a person to be happy with his or her life. A big part of everyone’s lives is their work. Unfortunately, many people are unhappy with their work. I guess the big question is: Why do we work (especially if many of us work at unsatisfying jobs)? So when I saw this book in the library, I figured it was worth reading.
2. Which passages were the most interesting, disturbing, humorous, or sad?
This book delves deeper into the plight of the worker. Each idea that the author proposes is punctuated with tidbits of academic research aimed at understanding what makes a workplace tick. That being said, the author tries to get at the reasons of why some people are satisfied with their jobs, while others are unsatisfied. The entire book was very relatable and real. I especially liked the passages that dealt with the theories that management has been following (many which are outdated or simply wrong). For example, the author stated that old theorists thought that people worked for money and nothing else. Many company leaders learned of this theory and created jobs that were dull and boring, because they felt that workers didn’t care as long as they were paid. Schwartz advises leaders in industry to realize the true motivation that drives people to work in order to make better jobs and happier workers.
3. What has this book taught me? Has it broadened my perspective on the world or some part of my life?
This book taught me to look not just at a job description, but at the business plan of an organization. How can we, as job seekers, be satisfied with our work if the company we are employed at lacks a business plan that prioritizes it’s workers? I’ve learned the importance of paying attention to a company’s organization and leadership team. For example, a good way to gauge a company’s employment value is to look at it’s employees and management. If employees are always frowning or look bored or annoyed, then that’s a pretty good sign that they aren’t happy with where they are working. So why are they unhappy? Well, maybe their management team is less than stellar. So, I look at the managers and more often than not, many of them are frowning at, arguing with, or scolding their employees, so it’s no wonder that employees are unhappy. Of course, there are many variables that factor in to how an employee or member of management presents themselves in a given day.
4. Has this book changed my opinion about anything or anyone?
This book has changed my outlook on jobs and work. I know that I don’t work solely for money- I also work to make a positive difference in the lives of others. I think this factors into why I have been so unsatisfied at the jobs I’ve taken over the years. I’m unhappy because the jobs only give me money, when what I really want to work for is to make people happy. I find that I am most happy at the end of the day when I’ve spent all day walking dogs and vaccinating cats and learning about surgeries and performing medical procedures on animals. Yeah, the owners can be a pain at times, but I know that overall, I am helping my clients. I guess that’s what keeps me going in the direction of veterinary medicine. It keeps me sane and smiling.
5. What is the writing style like? Engaging, boring, easy to understand?
This book is very insightful. I had to reread some of the passages because the author used some big words and concepts that I’d never heard of before. Nevertheless, the author did a great job of explaining complicated theories and I was left feeling more enlightened about the concept of work.
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