Books & Literature

Book Review: Make it Meaningful, by Debbie Haski-Leventhal

PERSONAL GROWTH: Unorthodox meets Start with Why: how escaping a cult led Debbie Haski-Leventhal to become a ‘professor of purpose’ and master the art of finding personal meaning in life.

Well researched, but not evocative.

Feature image credit: Simon & Schuster

Do you recall the Great Resignation of 2021? Familiar with the concept of “quiet quitting”?

Author Debbie Haski-Leventhal’s latest publication, Make it Meaningful, serves as a roadmap for aligning our deeper personal purpose with our professional lives. The extensive research highlighted in this publication suggests that the recent mass departure represents the culmination of a longstanding trend of employee dissatisfaction. The movement reflects an increased desire for purpose and meaning in our professions.

Although it would suit many audiences, it is best suited to employees or business owners that have already had a few years’ experience working, rather than those just starting out in their careers. It makes a useful gift for anyone wanting to start the new year with a fresh approach.

The book is split into seven chapters. The first chapter is very much about the author’s upbringing and growing up in the Kabbalah Centre. As she reflects on this experience, she observes that while purpose and meaning are interconnected, they are also distinctly different. This came to light during the pandemic as people recognised that life is too short.

The next few chapters progressed from there and discussed multiple models used in the quest for finding one’s purpose and creating an impact, including Haski-Leventhal’s own personal journey of finding a new meaning and purpose in her own life after Kabbalah. Although well written, this literary approach gave me as a reader the feeling of being an observer, as it comes across as a research report rather than an inspirational piece.

Each chapter felt like more of the same, despite the author validating her writing with varying types of research and examples. However, if you have the motivation and knowledge to use the definitive tools she discusses in your own way, you will find these chapters useful.

It should be noted that Haski-Leventhal does not think any less of people for not discovering their passion: “There is nothing morally wrong with a broadly harmonious, productive, dutiful life. But let’s not beat around the bush – a life without fired-up passion is usually not a life fully lived,” (page 222). She notes that it is one way to pass life, just not hers. She is spreading her knowledge as she considers it her responsibility to enable others to live their life rather than pass through the motions of life and be reflectively good.

The bulk of Haski-Leventhal’s career has been researching pro-social and altruistic behaviours of individuals and companies. The latter part of the book is more about the corporate world, social responsibility, and maintaining employee satisfaction within a workplace. Combining the data from the employees with that of the employers, she provides a comprehensive assessment of how you can find meaning and purpose in your work.

Reviewed by Rebecca Wu

The views expressed in this review belong to the author and not Glam Adelaide, its affiliates, or employees.

Distributed by: Simon & Schuster
Released: February 2023
RRP: $34.99

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