What’s your Great Work?


I read a book by top Canadian coach Michael Bungay Stanier over the weekend, called Do More Great Work. It’s not a long read, and its format is deceptively simple: a series of exercises or maps for you to fill in to help you explore who you are, and what you want to do in your work.

Too much of our working lives are taken up with ‘good work’ (ticks the boxes, but not spectacularly) or even ‘bad work’ (unproductive meetings and other stuff that add no value whatsover). A small percentage of our day is actually given over to the really important work: the activities that matter most to you and to your organisation. That’s the ‘great work’ of the title.

Your particular great work is work that only you are cut out to do. You bring your particular skills and expertise to that work, and if you don’t do it, no-one else can fill in for you.  As a coach who helps people to bring more meaning, creativity and balance into their working lives, this is a topic I bang on a lot about: take a look here for instance. So incidentally do others older and wiser than me:

“Where your talents and the needs of the world cross, there lies your vocation.” Aristotle

Try this today: keep a note of what percentage of your working day you spend on bad work, good work and Great Work. A simple pie chart should be the result. When you’ve got that chart in front of you, you’ll see the reality. How could you begin to shift that reality in the direction of more Great Work? What do you need to drop, and what do you need to focus on more?


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