TD Magazine

Give Back to the World Around You

Life's Great Question: Discover How You Contribute to the World

By Tom Rath
Silicon Guild, 160 pp., $23.95


The purpose of Rath's newest book is nothing less than to address Martin Luther King Jr.'s challenging query: "Life's most persistent and urgent question is: What are you doing for others?" This short yet powerful work from this multibook author offers a model on how we can use our gifts, identify our strengths, and shore up weaknesses to improve not only our own lives but the lives of those around us.

Rath challenges readers to begin with self-examination for "fixing the broken social contract between people and work," declaring that the solution starts with each of us. He further suggests that our jobs may be a force for answering King's call to improve what we do for others.

Acknowledging that, for many, their work is a chore—at times even a painful experience (think of the 66 percent of US employees identified by Gallup as disengaged)—Rath presents a framework to help individuals consider their job as a path to shared and worthy connections with those closest to them, their teammates, friends, and family members. He adamantly states that with insight, each of us can evaluate and improve our work situation and connections, enhancing the value we bring to this world.

While the focus of Life's Great Question is the world of work and how we can contribute better to our teams, Rath includes examples of where we can also more richly improve our connection to others' lives and find the path to "the energy to be your best."

With each book purchase, readers have the opportunity to create a personal profile at The profile will highlight three categories that Rath's research identifies as essential for teams to perform effectively: create, operate, and relate. Within those three banners, the profile describes an individual's three greatest contributions out of a possible 12 unique types and offers suggestions on contributing to the organization and team and on staying energized.


The website also offers an array of useful resources, which should grow in value with readers' contributions. Any talent development professional would be wise to check it out.

Rath is well known for his comment, "You can't be anything you want to be, but you can be a lot more of who you already are." This book urges each of us to consider how we should and can make a difference in the lives of those in our world. Life's Great Question may well prove to be an ideal tool for individuals or organizations.

About the Author

Jeanette K. Winters is a corporate knowledge management and learning executive known internationally for aligning performance support solutions to enable corporate growth, meet revenue expectations, and transform organizations through her work in providing enhanced employee value drivers. Jeanette has a well-established track record of designing and implementing world class solutions in challenging global environments resulting in performance and productivity improvements. She is a pioneer in promoting women in technology through the organizational programs that she has created. Jeanette is a recognized thought leader and change agent in building collaborative solutions that embrace people, process, and technology. She is the faculty director for the Aspiring Human Resource Professionals Program at the University of California, Berkeley.

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