Book Review: Zen & the Art of Making a Living

Book Review: Zen & the Art of Making a Living — A Practical Guide to Creative Career Design by Laurence G. Boldt

A review by Dr. Monroe Mann, PhD, Esq, MBA, LLM, ME
Founder & Executive Director, Break Diving, Inc.

This book has been with me for years.  And I’m still not done reading it.  Not because it’s not good.  Instead, because it is so chock full of wisdom that it is impossible to read it straight through and expect to benefit from it.  At 574 pages, it’s taking me a long time to get through it all, because on virtually every page, there is something that reaches out and grabs me deeply, that requires me to think about my life for a few days.

For example, yesterday, I was reading a few more pages, and I stumbled upon this amazing sentence: “Trust that you are good enough, and you don’t have to spend your life proving that you are.”

Now, isn’t that just wonderful?  In the current chapter, “Playing the Game: Winners, Losers, & Choosers”, the author helps remind us that we are all too often playing a game according to someone else’s rules.  Why are we all spending so much of our time trying to impress others?  Deep down, it seems, it’s because we don’t think that we are good enough on our own.  So we try to amass ‘titles’ and ‘property’ to somehow prove our worth.  And well, that doesn’t make any sense, because our titles and property do not determine our worth.  And yet, society has somehow tricked us into believing that they do!

It’s introspective thought-provoking wisdom like the above that really sets this book apart.  It’s part workbook, part philosophy book.  Scratch that: it’s a 574-page philosophy book with some helpful workbook exercises along the way.  But more importantly, it’s just fascinating to read.   It just makes you feel good, and helps you to realize that the career world we live in is so distorted from the truth of what we should be doing with our lives.  And it encourages us to re-examine what we are doing with our lives.

As Confucius said (and as quoted in the book!), “The superior man loves his soul, the inferior man loves his property.”  And in many ways, that’s the essence of this book: it helps the reader to stop trying to accumulate love of property, and instead, help the reader start to love himself.  How?  By finding and pursuing a vocation/career that really means something to him.  By helping the reader to create a career according to his rules, and not the rules set by society.

I heartily recommend this book to everyone–those with jobs they love, those with jobs they hate, entrepreneurs, and those who don’t know what the heck they are doing with their lives.  I guarantee you will find something on every page that will make the price of the book worthwhile.


If you are seeking life, career, business, financial, or time-management coaching, let us know!  Break Diving’s Monroe Mann would be pleased to help you figure out what you’re doing with your life and get you on track to reaching your wildest dreams.   If interested, send an email to info @ breakdiving dot org

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