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Master of One: Find and Focus on the Work You Were Created to Do
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|Title: Master of One: Find and Focus on the Work You Were Created to Do|
By: Jordan Raynor
Number of Pages: 240
Vendor: Waterbrook Press
Publication Date: 2020
|Dimensions: 8 1/4 X 5 1/2 (inches)|
Weight: 12 ounces
Stock No: WW653332
"A compelling case for embracing our vocational limits and choosing to do our one thing well."Emily P. Freeman, Wall Street Journal best-selling author of The Next Right Thing
Imagine how different your life would be if you spent your time doing the very thing that brings you the greatest joy. Its possible, but most people spend their days making incremental advances on numerous tasks, competent at many things but exceptional at none. Thats because for too long weve believed the lie that more activity, more jobs, and more responsibility equals greater effectiveness. In short, we are becoming a society of "jacks-and-jills-of-all-trades and masters of none."
But what if you could shift your focus from too many things to one?
In this thought-provoking book, youll discover the exponential power of pursuing a singular craft. Through practical principles, Jordan Raynor provides straightforward steps for finding and thriving in your calling. He also highlights more than a dozen real-life examples of high-impact individuals who have chosen to focus on and excel in their unique gifting, including:
• Chronicles of Narnia author C. S. Lewis
• Enron whistle-blower Sherron Watkins
• TV legend Mister Rogers
• Dallas Mavericks CEO Cynthia Marshall
• Reality TV star Chip Gaines
• NFL Hall of Fame coach Tony Dungy
• Biblical figures, a teacher, a pilot, a banker, and world-class entrepreneurs
Too many of us are overwhelmed, overcommitted, and overstressed. This book offers a better waythe path to becoming a master of one!
Questions & Answers with Jordan Raynor,
Author of Master of One: Find and Focus on the Work You Were Created to Do
1) In Master of One, you challenge the conventional career wisdom to “follow your passions” and “do whatever makes you happy.” Why do you feel compelled to challenge this advice?
Put simply, because it doesn’t work. In the book, I cite a slew of academic studies that show that the number one predictor of someone describing their work as a “calling” as opposed to a “career” or “job” is the number of years they have spent in that vocation—not whether or not they were passionate about the field before they entered it. It turns out that we get to love what we do by getting really good at it.
This truth shouldn’t come as a surprise to Christians who are modeling their lives after the one who “came not to be served but to serve” (Matthew 20:28). The “follow your passions” mindset focuses exclusively on what value a job can offer you. A much more effective and God-honoring strategy is to “follow your gifts,” focusing on the work you can do most exceptionally well as a means of making others happy. This is the most predictable path to finding work that you will stay in love with over a long period of time.
2) In the book, you point to C.S. Lewis as an example of someone whose one vocational thing was broad. Can you tell us about that and the difference between someone’s “one thing” being broad or specific?
Master of One is all about helping readers find, focus on, and master “one thing” vocationally. But it’s helpful to understand that that “one thing” might be specific or broad.
For example, my mother-in-law’s one vocational thing is very specific. She has been the Director of Children’s Music at her church for more than 30 years. Her one thing is one specific role (and she is truly world-class at it).
But most people’s “one things” aren’t that specific. Most are quite broad. C.S. Lewis is a great example. On the surface, it might look like Lewis was a master of many things. After all, he was a renowned writer and radio broadcaster and university teacher. But in an interview for Master of One, Lewis’s heir explained to me that Lewis viewed all of this work as expressions of one thing he was intentionally seeking to master: the art of teaching.
That insight was really helpful to me, and I think readers of Master of One will agree. While your “one thing” might be specific, it very well might be broad like Lewis’s. That makes it even more important to explicitly define, focus on, and purposefully master, which is exactly what the book helps you do.
3) You interviewed dozens of world-class professionals for this book. In those interviews, what themes came up over and over again that show how we might achieve mastery in our own careers?
Master of One started with a question: How do we do the most exceptional work for the glory of God and the good of others? To answer that, my team and I relied on God’s Word, interviews with dozens of Christians who are world-class at their varied vocations, and hundreds of books, academic articles, and other pieces of business literature. In all that study, three things came up over and over again as the keys to mastering anything professionally:
- Apprenticeships (either in a direct mentor-protégé relationship, or an indirect one which I explain in the book)
- Purposeful practice (which includes setting specific goals, intense focus, rapid feedback, and frequent discomfort)
- Discipline over time
No matter how you slice it, those three things are critical to becoming truly exceptional at anything vocationally.
4) Is there one person you profile in Master of One who had a particularly strong influence on you as you were researching for your book?
When I was writing the book in the summer of 2018, there was a lot of renewed interest in Fred Rogers, given the documentary (Won't You Be My Neighbor?) that has just been released about his life. I didn’t grow-up watching Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, but my wife and I were interested enough to go see the documentary, and as I sat there in the movie theater, I was totally blown away. I’m pretty sure it’s the only movie I’ve ever cried in.
Two things struck me in particular. First, Rogers appears to have been one of the most consistently Christ-like people I have ever seen. And second, as I watched Rogers on screen, I couldn’t help but think that he was the perfect picture of “the path to mastery” I was writing about in Master of One.
Rogers started his career in the same way I (and many others) did, with a wide range of interests and skills and a deep desire to find the work he could do most exceptionally well in service of God and neighbor. Over time, Rogers came to find that his “one thing” was Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. And once Rogers committed to the show, he was intensely focused on mastering his one vocational thing. The result was that Fred Rogers glorified God and served the world at a scale most of us can’t even imagine.
Rogers’s story—including the many pivots and moments of self-doubt on his path to mastery—were almost always on my mind as I wrote Master of One; and of course, his story is one of many featured prominently in the book.
5) How does the life of Jesus exemplify our need to say no to the nonessentials in order to focus on the work we feel called to master?
One of the main themes of Master of One is that if we are unwilling to say no to the nonessential in order to focus on the work we feel called to master, we are selfishly holding back the contribution God has called us to make in the world.
Nobody understood this principle better than Jesus who worked with a staggering amount of focus as he pursued the work the Father gave him to do (see John 17:4).
There’s a scene in the first chapter of The Gospel of Mark that illustrates this well, as Mark gives us a glimpse at a particularly productive day for Jesus who drove out demons from a man in the synagogue, healed Peter’s mother-in-law, and brought healing to “many” from the “whole town” who showed up at Jesus’s door. Not surprisingly, the next morning the disciples rushed to Jesus and said, “Everyone is looking for you!” The town had gotten wind of Jesus’s miraculous powers to heal and wanted an encore on day two. But in what must have come as a shock to the disciples, Jesus said no and offered an alternate itinerary: “Let us go somewhere else . . . so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.”
This is the first, but certainly not the last time we hear Jesus say no in the Gospels. While Jesus may have wanted to heal more people, he knew he had limited time on earth to fulfill his purpose. Jesus didn’t come to earth just to heal and reveal his identity. He came to preach the gospel in preparation for the Passion he would perform on the cross. Jesus was crystal clear regarding his purpose—his one thing—and this led him to consistently say no to good things in order to focus on the essential work the Father gave him to do during his time on earth.
If Jesus couldn’t say yes to everything, neither can we. If we are to do our most exceptional work for the glory of God and the good of others, we, like Jesus, must get in the habit of saying no.
"We are rightly inspired and grateful for all Jesus Christ did in his essential mission in life. But it is also breathtaking to consider what he didnt do. As the ultimate Essentialist, he modeled the disciplined pursuit of less. This is beautifully illustrated in Jordan Raynors Master of One."Greg McKeown, New York Times best-selling author of Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less
"I tell people all the time You cant do it all, but then I catch myself trying to complete just a few more things as my to-do list mushrooms every morning. Im thankful that Jordan Raynor has set out such a clear alternative that teaches you how to choose what you want most in your career and how to ignore everything else."Jon Acuff, New York Times best-selling author of Finish: Give Yourself the Gift of Done
"The Lord wants us to be excellent in what we do. Hes placed us in our careers, and we have a responsibility to be the very best we can be in whatever field we decide to take up. We should run to win. Jordans book will show you how."Tony Dungy, Pro Football Hall of Fame coach and New York Times best-selling author
"The topic of this book speaks to my heart and will serve well everyone who reads it."Horst Schulze, cofounder of Ritz-Carlton and author of Excellence Wins
"When I started my nonprofit, there were a million ideas swirling around, and a wise humanitarian encouraged me to deeply focus on one thing. That one thing was water, and that encouragement began a movement thats helped ten million people across the globe get clean water. Jordan Raynor gives the same advice in this book, showing you precisely how to find and focus on your one thing."Scott Harrison, founder and CEO of charity: water and the New York Times best-selling author of Thirst
"In Master of One, Jordan Raynor uses real-life examples to point the way to a satisfied life, one of purpose, meaning, and happiness."Sherron Watkins, Enron whistle-blower and Time magazines 2002 Person of the Year
"Christians ought to have the highest standards for excellence in our work. Thats the heart of this book, and I am so grateful Jordan has written it."Bobby Bowden, second-winningest coach in Division I college football history
"Jordan Raynor writes with a clear and powerful convictionthe path to exceptional work is not about more work but better work. Excellence is waiting for us if we will just dig in."Carey Nieuwhof, founding pastor of Connexus Church
"My stepfather, C. S. Lewis, used to say, We do not need more people writing Christian books. What we need is more Christians writing good books. This is true for any Christian in any line of work. I am thrilled that Jordan Raynor has taken the time to explore this idea more fully in Master of One."Douglas Gresham, stepson of C. S. Lewis and executive producer of Disneys and Netflixs The Chronicles of Narnia films
"Both social science and Gods Word refute the conventional wisdom that simply following your passions will lead to the ultimate satisfaction of vocation. In Master of One, Jordan Raynor articulately argues that we find true vocational happiness when we focus first on bringing joy to God and others by doing our work masterfully well."Missy Wallace, executive director of the Nashville Institute for Faith and Work
"Work is an opportunity to serve the world. But if we are to serve well, we ought to have the highest standards of excellence in our work. This book will help you find and focus on the work you can do most masterfully well."Jeff Goins, best-selling author of The Art of Work and Real Artists Dont Starve
"Jordan Raynor does an awesome job communicating how the gospel impacts our workespecially the work of the entrepreneur and culture maker."Henry Kaestner, cofounder of Bandwidth and founder of Faith Driven Entrepreneur
"Jordan Raynor is definitely speaking to me when thinking about the master multitasker. I already have joy for living life for an audience of one, but I cant wait to learn the principles to find focus and precision within my life."Tamika Catchings, four-time Olympic gold medalist, ten-time WNBA All-Star, and former WNBA MVP
"Serve the world by picking a lane and getting masterfully good at your craft. This book will show you how."Chris Graebe, host of The StartupCamp Podcast
"I loved Master of One! Jordans writing frees you from the paralysis of indecisiveness and provides a simple framework for choosing the work you will do most masterfully well for the glory of God."Stefan Kunz, letterer, designer, and illustrator
"Jordan Raynor offers a practical guide to finding and focusing on the work you can do most exceptionally wellnot for your own sake but to bring benefit to the world. We need this message right now. And the great news is that this book exhibits what it teaches: it is a book on mastery that is masterfully written."Matt Perman, director of career development at the Kings College, NYC, and author of Whats Best Next
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