This isn't a quote from the book but it could have been. I thought long and hard before giving one star for this book because it is well written and has a lot of interesting research about work and how humankind deal with this necessary evil. However I wanted, and was expecting, some kind of suggested action plan to identify what job might suit me and how to progress in that direction. What I got was heavy-duty wordy research/history on work in general and case studies of well paid professionals who had all they needed materially but didn't enjoy their job. News flash everyone struggles to find the enjoyment in their job, although not everyone is as well paid for doing their job as these guys so stop whining.
Anyway the overall answer to how to find fulfilling work was to try out lots of different jobs (in a work experience sense) to see what suits you. I take issue with this as it's a great idea in theory that's simply not possible in the real world. Even if you have money enough to do unpaid work for a while and don't have restricting family commitments, do you know how difficult it is to get work experience? Firstly so many places require a CRB check, even unpaid staff, and it has to be done by each company you're working with. They won't pay £40 for a CRB check so you can have a few days work experience never to be seen again. Equally references are usually required for each new company you work with and while most of us have a couple of people who are happy to write us a reference, would they be happy to write 6 or more a year answering different questions from different companies. If you are well connected you may be able to blag a day here and a day there unofficially shadowing but that won't teach you much about a job and as Roman points out 'lawyers hang out with lawyers' so you'll probably end up shadowing in an industry you already know about anyhow. Those that don't have connections, references, time or money are screwed.
I brought the book because I want to move out of the poorly paid and draining charity sector for a professional career and I found it depressing to hear the case studies of professionals who have everything I want but hate it and after paying off the mortgage go work in the charity sector for that sense of fulfilment. Spare me, charity jobs are fulfilling when you believe you don't have to work as hard (?!) and don't have to rely on the income. For those who work in the charity sector and haven't cleared our mortgage yet, we have daily worries about quality, kpi's, losing funding and losing our jobs to over qualified candidates looking for that warm gushy feeling inside you get from 'charity work'
It's an interesting read on the history of work but that's it. It may inspire hope if you're an unhappy educated wealthy professional looking to take your foot off the pedal with lots of options already but why you'd actually need this book I don't know. For everyone else it doesn't really offer anything practical, of course we'd all love to spend a day or two shadowing the Guardian's assistant editor, or following an a&e doctor around but it's just not going to happen. contrary to the advice in this book most of us do have to work out what we want before we take action because we are limited by money, time, family commitments , lack of contacts, and education. We can't afford to try and if it's not right, try again. If we are going to gamble many thousands of pounds on education or give up paid work to get us somewhere we need it to be the right somewhere. This book does nothing to address these issues so to me it was useless.