Jon Acuff | Do Over (Episode 476)

Jon Acuff (@JonAcuff) shares how we can rescue Monday, reinvent our work, and never get stuck — at any age or stage of career — in his new book Do Over.

The Cheat Sheet:

  • 90 percent of Americans are disengaged from work — are you among them?
  • If you spend as many hours watching television as the average American, binge-ification is ruining your hustle.
  • In spite of its current trendiness, most people shouldn’t be entrepreneurs. (Though those who are geared for it wouldn’t have it any other way.)
  • Anyone can’t do everything. Examples: Not everyone should write a book. Not everyone should release an album. Not everyone should try out for the NFL.
  • Ask these five questions to figure out what skills you really have.
  • And so much more…

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By a certain age, you’ll probably find aspects of your career less satisfying than you were hoping they’d be (and if you haven’t gotten to that point yet, chances are pretty good that you will). For an occupation that will keep you busy for 40-60 hours per week, over 40 years of your life, making your work matter matters.

In episode 476 of The Art of Charm, we talk to New York Times bestselling author Jon Acuff about his new book, Do Over: Rescue Monday, Reinvent Your Work, and Never Get Stuck, and how its lessons can help us reclaim power over our livelihood regardless of age or stage of career.

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More About This Show

Jon Acuff is the New York Times bestselling author of five books, including Do Over: Rescue Monday, Reinvent Your Work, and Never Get Stuck. Unlike a lot of people in the business of self-help, he’ll be the last one to tell you to find what you love to do and never work a day in your life. His aim is to convince you that it’s worth making an effort to do something you love — but the opportunity isn’t just going to fall into your lap. If you don’t love what you do now, you can seek a do over, but expect to work for it.

While Jon will relay the grim poll results proclaiming that 90 percent of Americans are disengaged from work, he’ll point out one of modern society’s biggest impediments to the pursuit of a more satisfying livelihood: binge-ification.

Binge-ification is Ruining Your Hustle

“20 years ago, the word binge was an insult,” says Jon. “It was a bad word with a negative connotation. Now you go to Best Buy and the aisles say Bingeworthy TV. 10-20 years ago, if you went to Blockbuster and rented nine movies, even the guy at the counter would go, ‘Is everything all right at home?’ But now when you binge watch House of Cards all Saturday and come in on Monday at work…people will recommend other shows.

“Part of the reason you’re not getting where you want to go is because you’re giving Netflix all your time. [And] I’m not against fantasy football, but don’t tell me you can’t hustle on your business and show me your intense research you did on a third-string backup punter and the wind coming out of Chicago this weekend! You have time and you have hustle; you’re just not applying it to things that matter!”

Jon gives us another startling statistic: the average American spends 35 hours a week watching television — which is almost enough time to fill another full-time job. Yet most of us consider ourselves too busy to hustle for the rewards of a better life. We’re willfully ignorant of the real numbers so we can comfortably deny their influence, but Jon considers it his job to wake us up by “using humor to say hard things in easy ways.”

So does this mean we should all give up every worldly pleasure to chase after our wild entrepreneurial dreams? Not at all. In fact, Jon would argue that most people aren’t cut out for the entrepreneurial lifestyle — but those who are wouldn’t have it any other way. The point is, no matter our calling, we could all afford to keep track of how we’re spending our time and trim the fat to hustle for the livelihood and lifestyle we find appealing.

Nobody’s Good at Everything

“Some people ask me, ‘Should I write a book?’ or ‘Should everyone write a book?’ and I always say, ‘No,'” says Jon. “And I think they’re insulted by that, but what I mean is, I shouldn’t record an album. I shouldn’t sculpt. But with books, it’s this weird thing where everybody feels like [they] should have a book.

“Whenever somebody says, ‘A book is a great way to build authority,’ I think it’s also a great way to write a terrible book!”

Seeking shortcuts is a tempting way to get ahead in your business of choice, but it’s also a great way to read a terrible book or buy a useless product that some uninspired hack threw together as a quick way to make a buck. This isn’t to say that everyone selling something online is trying to scam you, but most people who have important lessons to impart usually took a while to arrive at them (and, to be clear, it’s only people from this latter category we feature on The Art of Charm).

Jon realized these important lessons aren’t always a constant when he got some thought-provoking feedback about a previous book he’d written.

“I wrote a book called Quitter that talked about the side hustle and how you should always do something on the side until it becomes large enough to become your full-time thing — if that’s the path you’re going to take,” says Jon. “And then I started to meet people that would say, ‘Hey, you know what? I want to be a cattle rancher and I can’t get one head of cattle in my apartment complex and grow it slowly on the side. That’s an all-or-nothing, where I have to go work at a cattle ranch during the summers’…and it changed my opinion…I can see some grey in this black and white thing I presented.”

And that’s a good thing. We want to be able to look back on ideas we had in the past and modify them with new ideas we’ve had and have come across since then — it’s how we know we’re growing. As Jon says, “Anything that’s going to be great is going to take great time.”

Learning should be lifelong.

Knowing Your Network

If you’ve listened to The Art of Charm before, you know we try to drive home the importance of networking; even when we shy away from the very word “networking” and call it something else, you know what we’re talking about! But even if you’re shy about reaching out to new people and establishing a network, have you considered that you probably already have one? It’s likely more sizeable than you think.

“The reality is, most people don’t know who they know,” says Jon, “so I have some really simple questions I like to ask people. I always encourage them to do a notecard exercise. There’s tons of research about why writing something down physically is better than typing it into a computer or a device.”

Grab a stack of notecards. Ask yourself these questions and, as you answer them with the names of people you know, jot down one person’s name per card.

  1. Who is wise about career issues?
  2. Who have I worked with?
  3. Who is influential?
  4. Who owns a business?
  5. Who is in my desired career space?
  6. What casual relationships am I forgetting that might have a career impact?

From Jon’s experience, this exercise will likely generate a huge pile of notecards. The moral of the story: before we even begin to go out of our way to meet and greet new faces, most of us already have a gigantic network of people who can help us (and who we, in turn, can help).

“If you want to, you can put [the notecards] up on a board…and you’ll start to see patterns,” says Jon. Perhaps you’ll notice groupings of people you didn’t realize had anything in common. Maybe you’ll be reminded to touch bases with a good friend you haven’t seen in a while, which could lead to opportunities neither of you had considered (and if not, it’s always a treat to touch bases with good friends).

Listen to this episode of The Art of Charm in its entirety to learn the benefits of cutting goals in half, why hustle has seasons and is an act of focus — not frenzy, how honest friends and colleagues can keep your endeavors in check, the simple idea an NFL player gave Jon that changed the way he packs for trips and how he approaches learning new skills, a simple exercise called “fighter pilot & autopilot” that relates to the way we learn skills, how preparation is the mark of the high-performing professional, the difference between talent and craft, five questions to ask in order to figure out what skills you really have, and more.

THANKS, JON ACUFF!

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AJ Harbinger - author of 1049 posts on The Art of Charm

AJ Harbinger is one of the world’s top relationship development experts. His company, The Art of Charm, is a leading training facility for top performers that want to overcome social anxiety, develop social capital and build relationships of the highest quality. Raised by a single father, AJ felt a strong desire to learn about relationships and the elements that make them successful. However, this interest went largely untapped for many years. Following the path set out for him by his family, AJ studied biology in college and went on to pursue a Ph.D. in Cancer Biology at the University of Michigan. It was at this time that he began to feel immense pressure from the cancer lab he worked in and began to explore other outlets for expression. It was at this point that The Art of Charm Podcast was born.

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