Written by Davis Nguyen If you could choose the words on your epitaph, what would you want it to say?
Pam Slim’s Body of Work: Finding the Thread That Ties Your Story Together explores this question by asking, “What is the legacy you want to leave behind?”
Pam defines a body of work as “everything you create, contribute, affect, and impact. For individuals, it is the personal legacy you leave at the end of your life.”
Why is it important to have a Body of Work?
One of the central premises of Pam’s book is that we live in a time where change and shifts in our professional lives happen frequently and often with little notice. This is normal as the economy is unstable and the future unpredictable. We have to be ready for this change when and where it happens, and the way to do that is by creating a larger narrative about the story of our work and strengths.
The role you have now is not the only one you will have in your lifetime. There is no longer a linear path to your career.
It’s likely that many of us won’t stay in the same industry, let alone the same role our entire lives. By identifying your “Body of Work”, you give yourself a whole new way to look at your career. You view your current role as a part of the legacy you will ultimately leave behind and seek opportunities to build on your legacy.
How do I Identify my Body of Work?
Over the course of the book, Pam shares sage advice on achieving our long-term goals, exercises to help identify what truly matters to each of us, and stories of people like John Legend, Brené Brown, and Martha Beck about how they developed their Body of Work.
Pam breaks down the book into the following chapters to help define the story you want to tell yourself and the story you want others to know.
- Define Your Roots (What you value and who do you want to serve?)
- Name Your Ingredients (What skills do you have/want to develop?)
- Choose Your Work Mode (What type of work do you want to do?)
- Create and Innovate (How do you test your ideas?)
- Surf the Fear (How do you overcome your fears?)
- Collaborate (How do you find people to support your dreams?)
- Your Definition of Success (What does success really mean to you?)
- Share Your Story (How do you spread your story?)
What can I expect from Body of Work?
Here are some of my favorite passages from the book:
On Creating Your Own Success, Chapter: Collaborate
“Martha Beck once told me: ‘Every time I go to a cocktail party, well-meaning authors or experts corner me with a copy of their book, asking in a hushed tone ‘would you mind giving my book to Oprah when you are in her office?’ What they should be asking is: ‘What were the most powerful steps you took to prepare yourself to be on Oprah?’”
On knowing your roots/values, Chapter: Defining Your Roots
“When you name your roots…you remind yourself why your struggle is worth it in the long run.”
On Moving Past Fear, Chapter: Surf the Fear
“While it is normal for people to get depressed or afraid about the unknown, the key is to keep moving forward by focusing on the future. If you focus on what you want in your life instead of what you don’t want, you’ll see your opportunities expand.”
Interview with Pam Slim
In my 25-minute interview with Pam Slim we discussed why, more than ever, 20somethings need to develop a body of work; how to define your roots; how to create your council of Jedi advisors; and how to communicate your dreams to your parents, who might not be immediately accepting of your major or career path.
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We are thrilled to give away two signed-copies of Pam Slim’s Body of Work: Finding the Thread That Ties Your Story Together to two lucky Life After College readers.
For a chance to win, answer the following question and leave your email in the comments by Friday, June 6th. We will pick two winners with Random.org and email to let you know!
Comment to be Entered to Win:
What are your top 3 key ingredients that you want to have present in your job or career?
Davis (@IamDavisNguyen) graduated from Yale University in 2015. He currently lives in San Francisco and works at Bain & Company. When he’s not helping CEOs transform their companies, he is helping recent graduates figure out the type of life they want for themselves and helping them get there.