If you have gone back to work after the New Year feeling unsettled about the daily grind, you’re not alone. Many creative pros know deep down that they are capable of contributing much more to the world than the mundane tasks that seem to fill their work days. If you have given up trying to do the type of excellent work you know you have in you, then perhaps you should check out Todd Henry’s inspiring new book.
In “Die Empty: Unleash Your Best Work Every Day,” Henry suggests ways to cultivate a mindset and methods that will help you increase the odds that at the end of your life, you won’t regret how you spent your days.
“The marketplace is filled with (often simplistic and unhelpful) platitudes about living a life of fulfillment, landing your dream job, and discovering your purpose, but when you are in the midst of the fray, it can feel futile to think about anything other than hitting your deadlines and chasing the next promotion,” writes Henry.
The title “Die Empty” refers to the goal of completing your best work before you die. Henry says that if he doesn’t wake up tomorrow, he wants to know that “I have emptied myself of whatever creativity is lingering inside,with minimal regrets about how I spent my focus, time and energy.” He acknowledges that the “Die Empty” title isn’t exactly a feel-good slogan, but says it challenges readers to approach their work with greater urgency.
Henry believes each of us has a one-of-kind combination of passions, skills, and experiences that we can contribute to make meaningful change. But as he travels across the country giving motivational speeches at corporate events, he meets people every day who have abandoned their contribution and forfeited their best work: “They’re stuck or deceived into believing that the path they are one will eventually become more bearable.”
While unleashing your best work requires sustained effort, Henry says the term “Die Empty” doesn’t mean getting everything done today, following your whims, or living like there’s no tomorrow. Rather, it’s about embracing work with the mindset that will help you make steady progress every day on the projects that matter to you most. It’s about aligning your work around your values, devoting yourself to developing your skills and intuition, and not allowing comfort, fear, familiarity, and ego to keep you from acting on your ambitions.
The book is divided into three sections. The first three chapters discuss why work matters and why so many people end up settling for less than what they are capable of. The next seven chapters share methods and principles for achieving your best work. The final two chapters offer strategies for adopting the principles in your daily life.
To get a better sense of what’s covered in the book, you can download a sample of the book from Amazon. Or, you can watch this 49-minute “Creative Mornings” presentation that Henry gave in Cincinnati. (It’s an uplifting way to start the New Year!)
Todd Henry is also the author of “The Accidental Creative: How to Be Brilliant at a Moment’s Notice.” He promotes his company, Accidental Creative, as “an arms dealer for the creative revolution.” The firm’s mission is to teach people and teams to be prolific, brilliant, and healthy. Henry regularly speaks and consults with companies about how to develop practices and systems that lead to everyday brilliance.