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Book Review: Do Over: Rescue Monday, Reinvent Your Work, and Never Get Stuck by Jon Acuff
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Book Review: Do Over: Rescue Monday, Reinvent Your Work, and Never Get Stuck by Jon Acuff - Executive Leadership Articles

Book Review: Do Over: Rescue Monday, Reinvent Your Work, and Never Get Stuck by Jon Acuff

Executive Leadership Articles

Book Review: Do Over: Rescue Monday, Reinvent Your Work, and Never Get Stuck by Jon Acuff

There's a great scene in the film City Slickers, starring Billy Crystal with Bruno Kirby and Daniel Stern. Three middle-aged men confront their lives by escaping them, joining a cattle drive that begins as an adventure for tourists but becomes an actual drive when things go wrong for the tour leaders. As they drive nears completion, the Stern character tells his best friends that as horrible as things have turned out for him, he's getting something many people never get: a do-over. Armed with the prospects of starting out fresh, the support of good friends, and the galvanizing effect of the self-discover resulting from his adventure, he is unsure of his future but determined not to repeat the mistakes of his youth.

It's a wonderful, feel-good moment, and the film's enduring message is that wherever you are in life, it's healthy to take stock of things every so often, to take an honest look at what you've become, and that it's never too late to begin again or to adjust the course you've decided to stay. In his book Do Over: Rescue Monday, Reinvent Your Work, and Never Get Stuck (Penguin Publishing, 2015), Jon Acuff explains how he has given his career multiple do-overs, and offers a 175-page how-to on experiencing your own do-over. Your whole working life, he writes, you've been contributing to your "career savings account," a reserve of assets that you accrue as part of any normal career, upon which you can draw when you need a do-over.

And you need a do-over if you dread getting out of bed Monday mornings, and "It’s on us. Though we often prefer to blame others or the economy or a boss who doesn’t get us, the reality is that a better job begins with building a better you. Work is not the enemy. Work does not have to be a miserable bar-free prison we voluntarily serve time in until the parole of retirement. On the contrary, work can be great. Work can be wonderful. If we rescue Monday. If we dare to reinvent it. If we refuse to get stuck."

The bulk of his thesis involves the four categories of assets you've saved in your career savings account: relationships, skills, character, and hustle. Acuff understands where his likely audience is, and what the arguments are against his proposal, so he takes a lot of time to explain each of these elements and to convince you that you absolutely have at your disposal everything you need to reset your circumstances. There's a lot of cheerleadery stuff here, and for the reader who's already pretty confident in his abilities but only needs the practical roadmap for a do-over, it can get a little tiresome. Yet there amidst the pep talks are some serious pieces of wisdom that even the most self-assured can put into actual motion, from a writer who's clearly been there.

Just as the characters in City Slickers survive their ordeal with the knowledge that they control their attitudes, choices, and priorities, Acuff insists that whatever your circumstances look like, you control the majority of what happens to you, which is empowering for the person who wishes to take the reins, but this approach can be crippling for the person who's convinced that he or she has no assets in the career savings account. The author actually asks the reader to trust him, to give some of the prescribed exercises an honest try before deciding there's nothing in there. For this reason, some readers will find this a quick, invigorating read, while others may find it as difficult a journey as a cattle drive through four states.

Acuff keeps his writing voice as casual as possible for this reason, coming across as an everyday guy who's held some pretty menial jobs. He's quick with a funny anecdote, and although he seems to be slightly in love with his own writing, most readers will find the narrative voice easy to work with and enjoyable to read.

 

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Book Review: Do Over: Rescue Monday, Reinvent Your Work, and Never Get Stuck by Jon Acuff - Executive Leadership Articles

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