“How much of your day do you spend doing work that you’ll be proud of later?”
– – From “Die Empty: Unleash Your Best Work Every Day
There are many books on how to become a success, but only a few on how to be a persistent success. Even fewer cover how to be a persistent success over your lifetime.
Die Empty is that kind of book. A new edition of Henry’s book, asks readers to realistically confront the value they offer to the world through their work, whether they are managing a corporation, delivering interoffice memos, or crafting the next artistic masterpiece. Small Business Trends reviewed an earlier edition of the book some time ago.
What The Book Die Empty Is About
Die Empty deals with the core psychology of workplace engagement, an increasing topic of concern in the “work as work” vs “work as happiness” debate. Die Empty’s contribution to this conversation is to redirect the conversation to the individual. Specifically, the question shouldn’t be “What kind of work can I do that will fulfill me?”. Instead, the question should be “What kind of person am I offering to my work?”
Todd Henry explores the answer in the book.
He begins by pointing out that we often begin any endeavor (new job, a new position or the next project, etc.) with energy, enthusiasm, and motivation. As we become more invested in the work, we fall prey to mediocrity. The book, however, uses “mediocrity” in a way different than the common use of the term. In Die Empty, “mediocrity” isn’t just “average”; it’s a compromise. We’re no longer feeding our energy and passion into the project, rather we are accepting a lower standard to match our lowered expectations.
To get to the level of persistent creative output that “Die Empty” wants us to achieve, we have to do a couple of things:
- First, we need to recognize our passion (your “Big Why”) and what we’re willing to do to pursue it.
- Second, we need to feed our passion with healthy and energizing practices (engaging in the skill set used in the book)
- Third, we need to starve opportunities that drain our passion and motivation (The “7 Deadly Sins of Mediocrity” and other concepts mentioned in the book).
If we can achieve the above three things and make it a part of our daily habits, a person can build a habit of success, not just the products of success.
Todd Henry is a writer, speaker, and founder of The Accidental Creative, an organization that helps businesses foster and cultivate creativity through innovative workshops. He also hosts the “Accidental Creative” podcast.
What Was Best About This Book
The best part of Die Empty is the optimistic tone (despite what might be assumed by the title) that Todd Henry brings to the topic of self-help. His language is conversational and easy to digest but is hard-hitting and innovative. As discussed above, Todd Henry has a different perspective on the common terms we use in “work-life balance” like “passion” and “mediocrity” that deserve attention.
What Could Have Been Done Differently
Die Empty is a great book for getting the inspiration a person needs to move forward. It covers the language of the “self-help” in a way that is refreshing and new. The book does not provide a step-by-step guide to HOW to use that self-help on a daily basis.For example, the book helps readers understand that chasing a “good job” to fulfill a dream without understanding our motivation will lead to a wild goose chase, but it doesn’t tell you how to get started. It also focuses almost exclusively on an individual level, not organization-level change.
Why Read This Book
Die Empty is the kind of book that you want to read when you feel a nagging or sinking feeling that you (or your team) could and should be doing more. The book walks you through the common obstacles that everyone faces but does so in an engaging and unique way. Todd Henry asks pointed questions that really make you stop and think. It is in those thinking moments when your mind shifts from mediocrity to greatness.