Mar 11, 2013

Book Review: Loving Work

Mike Hayes went into the radio industry right out of college. He was excited about pursuing his dream of being an on-air host. After several years of working long hours, in a stressful field he earned a producing role at the largest sports radio station in the country.

He even landed an interview with Michael Jordan. Rather than being elated, as you might imagine, Mike was blasé about the meeting. As he recalls, “I had just talked with perhaps the greatest NBA player of all time, and it didn't faze me in the least.” It was obvious that even after after all the work and time invested in his radio career, something was missing.

In Loving Work Mike Hayes shares his search for an answer to why he had lost the enjoyment he once had for his chosen profession. Along the way he learned more about himself, his strengths and passions, and how they could be instruments of grace for others.

Time for discernment

Simply because Mike was bored, didn't mean he should change careers. To his credit, he avoided a potential career pitfall by not making radical changes too quickly. As career coach, Annie Favreau points out, “Job unhappiness may be related to a specific co-worker, a negative attitude, an outside-of-work stressor, or a whole other slew of other problems that won't be fixed by jumping into a new career area.”

Instead, Mike started becoming more aware of what he enjoyed about his present job. Mike says, “there's much to be learned about ourselves simply by noticing where we thrive.” He volunteered to help with the station's charity telethon and thoroughly enjoyed it. Such small changes helped him enjoy his job more and gain understanding about what direction to take in the future.

Relationships

Like other "find your ideal work" type books, this one includes questions for the reader to ponder and suggestions on how to discover strengths and weaknesses. Where the book truly shines however, is how the author brings to light two of the key elements of discernment: relationships and prayer.

The author recounts discussions with co-workers and mentors that helped him think through his career path. As I imagined both sides of these conversations I could understand just how talking through experiences can help in the discernment process.

Prayer

While talking with others can provide direction, prayer is essential to spiritual discernment. Sometimes when I'm going through a tough time, that is when it is toughest to know how to pray. I might be able to complain to God easily enough, but how do I listen for divine response?

Mike explains how his practice of the Daily Examen of St. Ignatius aided his prayer life. This five step process provides a framework for reflecting on the ups and downs of the previous day. Through this process God can reveal areas of our personal strengths and opportunities for growth.

Through discernment, Mike was led to his current roles of college campus minister and retreat director. While this is probably not the last stop on his work life path, he has experienced growth through the process.

As you considered a change in your work life, how have trusted relationships and prayer played a role?

Image by Tim Miller. Used with permission. Sourced via Flickr.

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