Great Work Book Summary By David Sturt

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Great Work is an invaluable guide for entrepreneurs and corporate employees seeking to make a real difference in the world.

This book outlines the five key skills needed to create something great and leave a lasting impression on those around you.

It provides clear examples of iconic innovations from recent history that show you how to take your ideas and improve upon them, making sure they have a positive impact on peoples lives.

Whether you're an aspiring entrepreneur or a seasoned professional, Great Work will help you unlock your creative potential, providing an expert roadmap regarding what it truly takes to succeed.

Great Work Book

Book Name: Great Work (How to Make a Difference People Love)

Author(s): David Sturt

Rating: 4.2/5

Reading Time: 13 Minutes

Categories: Career & Success

Author Bio

David Sturt is a well known and respected figure in the professional world.

He is an executive vice-president at O.


Tanner and has advised many Fortune 1000 executives, as well as speaking to audiences around the globe to share his knowledge of employee engagement, inspiring contributions, and rewarding outstanding results.

He also wrote The Great Work of Your Life: A Guide for the Journey to Your True Calling, which is an insightful book that uses stories from actual people's lives – some famous, some not – to help readers discover their own passions and develop the courage to pursue them.

For those looking for guidance on living a meaningful life and finding your true calling, David Sturt's work provides valuable insight into this journey.

5 Skills That Great High Performers Use To Make A Difference At Work

High Performers

In his book, Great Work, the author studies around two million examples of award-winning performance in different corporations and captures how high performers make a difference.

He outlines five skills that these high achievers share: they ask the right questions, they look for themselves, speak to their external circle, improve the mix and deliver the difference.

What people need to learn is how to make a real lasting impact with their work.

The author explains this by using three stories; The Cat in the Hat, how Instagram was created from single feature of a totally different app, and how Polaroid’s instant photography came about.

Through these stories you can learn what it takes to make a difference that people genuinely appreciate and upholds during your career.

Discover The Difference You Can Make In Others’ Lives By Reframing And Job Crafting

It’s important to think about how the way you do your job can benefit others.

For example, when a janitor performs his job, he has a direct impact on the patients’ comfort level.

If he is noisy and careless in his work, it will cause more disturbance and stress to the person trying to rest and heal.

However, if he is mindful of those around him and takes care to perform his duties quietly, it can help lift their spirits and improve their outlook during a difficult time.

This same idea applies across any profession – by consciously focusing on how our work affects other people, we can strive to ensure that our actions are always making someone else’s life easier or better in some way.

We can change our perception of work from just something we have to do into something bigger than us that has real impact on people’s lives.

Instead of just checking off a daily ‘to-do’ list, we should take the opportunity to go beyond that and consider ways in which we can make meaningful contributions with our jobs.

By doing this, we become more aware of the impact of our work and how we may be able to bring more benefit not just ourselves but also others around us.

The Power Of Constraints: How Working Within Limitations Can Lead To Amazing Creativity

Great work takes good ideas and makes them even better.

It’s not enough to just have a single good idea; you need to add on to it and tweak it in order to create something even more impressive.

That’s why it’s important to build upon the good work that already exists.

Take Carl Sagan’s famous statement: “If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe.” This is because before you can turn the ingredients into a delicious pie, they need to exist.

But if you only build upon what already exists, there are fewer constraints on what you can do – and these constraints are actually an ideal starting point for great work.

The Cat in the Hat is a perfect example of great work built upon existing foundations.

When illustrator Ted Geisel was given the task of creating something that could positively influence children learning how to read, he had limited options – he only had 225 words from which he could choose, mostly two syllable words with few verbs.

He didn’t become frustrated by this; instead he saw it as a challenge!

He eventually found two words on this list that rhymed – “cat” and “hat” -and thus The Cat in the Hat was born, changing children’s literature forever!

So don’t be afraid of being confined by good work – instead use it as an opportunity to create great work!

The Value Of Asking The Right Questions To Change The World For The Better


Asking the right questions is essential for great work.

It’s how Edwin Land came up with the idea of Polaroid Corporation when his three-year-old daughter asked why she couldn’t see the photo as soon as it was taken.

He looked into the question more deeply and decided to do something about it, eventually creating instant photography that would revolutionize the industry.

Achieving something great starts with asking a simple but meaningful question.

This will open up a door to new possibilities, accessibilities, and potential solutions that others may have overlooked before you.

As you pursue this question, tackle it head on and see what improvements can be made to overcome current limitations or barriers.

Don’t forget to apply your own skills to problem solving – Land used his knowledge of polarizing filter for sunglasses in solving this problem for his daughter – and think outside of the box for creative solutions that go beyond what people are accustomed to or like.

To do great work, you have to stay curious and ask insightful questions that inspire transformative ideas!

Taking A Closer Look At The Past Can Help You Solve Problems And Give People What They Love

“SEE” stands for “use your unique perspective to make great work”.

This means that when it comes time to create something, it’s important to have your own perspective.

Netflix co-founder Jim Cook used his own perspective and knowledge to solve a serious problem involving DVDs getting destroyed in mail sorting machines.

He took the initiative and ended up creating the simple yet effective “Netflix Envelope” — a low-cost and sturdy envelope that would protect the DVDs from damage during shipping.

Amazon and iTunes also use their customers’ past search and purchase histories in order to form insights about what people might be interested in buying now.

Whirlpool had their own success story when they redesigned a product based on trends from years ago.

By looking into the past, they were able to create one of their most successful projects.

These examples show us that often we don’t need complex solutions to solve problems — instead, we just have to get creative with our unique perspectives!

When you’re facing a challenge, don’t be afraid to draw upon your ideas or existing knowledge.

You never know what solutions could arise simply by taking the time to SEE: use your unique perspective when creating great work.

Tap Into Your Outside Circle For Quality Feedback And Creative Insights

Do you have an idea that could change the world? You might think it’s genius, but if you only talk about your idea with your inner circle of friends and family, there’s a chance you won’t get the best feedback.

That’s because these people are likely to think like you, support your ideas and be hesitant to hurt your feelings.

That’s why it pays to engage outside of our comfortable group of trusted confidants and seek out divergent thinking and unexpected questions from unlikely sources.

People in our outer circles can give us invaluable feedback which challenges our ideas and helps identify areas for improvement that we may not have noticed before.

To really get the most out of engaging with those outside of one’s inner circle, however, it is important to present ideas in a way that taps into their desire to make a difference; something more meaningful than simply asking them to solve your problem for you.

By inviting others to participate in making something great, they will be much more willing to put thoughtful effort into providing helpful insights and advice that could potentially improve upon even the best-laid plans!

Make Improvements People Love By Adding Something New, Simplifying, And Harmonizing Your Ideas


If you’re looking to make an awesome difference that people love, then it’s essential to ensure that your ideas have been properly worked through in advance of implementation.

You must model, adjust and play with your ideas before turning them into reality if they are to have the greatest chance of success.

To do this successfully, you can use three tricks.

The first is to add something new; think of a rolling suitcase or heated car seat as examples – simple additions can result in massive improvements.

However, these should always be useful additions – don’t add features for the sake of it which no one seeks any benefit from!

The second way to improve is by simplifying – removing aspects which detract from the whole rather than add anything.

Again here, Apple used this method when making their iconic iPod scroll wheel – by removing a set of buttons and replacing them with a scrolling wheel, they reduced complexity and made the product more desirable.

Finally, harmonize all your ideas together; make sure every concept is related and works harmoniously together without diluting its impact or purpose.

Working on your ideas before putting them into practice will go a long way towards ensuring they deliver the success you seek.

The Power Of A Growth Mind-Set: How Kevin Systrom And Mike Krieger Turned Failure Into Success With Instagram

Creating a successful product starts with a great idea and ends when it makes a difference to others.

This is the lesson learned by Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, who designed an app called Burbn which was designed to let users check in and share photos.

Unfortunately, the app did not catch on with people.

However, Systrom and Krieger were determined to make their mark.

To do this, they had to adopt a growth mind-set – thinking of success being something that is achievable through learning and failing – rather than attributing their successes as byproducts of natural intelligence or other innate qualities.

The duo recognized the value of feedback – both good and bad – and used it wisely to create something amazing from the ashes of Burbn.

After observing that individuals loved photo sharing, they implemented cool filters, borders, and re-launched under the name Instagram.

This story illustrates how delivering a difference starts at production but does not have to end there either.

You must have an openness for feedback or criticism so you can identify any potential flaws in your product or service.

And above all else – stay passionate about what you’re creating because only then will you be able to achieve greatness!

Wrap Up

The final summary of the book is that everyone can make a difference in their work if they have the right mindset and the willingness to explore.

By honing the five skills of asking, seeing, talking, improving the mix, and delivering differences, you too can make an impact that others love.

To implement this advice in your own life, try to avoid locking yourself within your inner circle.

It’s important to seek out new perspectives from outsiders so that we can learn from different approaches and open ourselves up to fresh ideas.

Going beyond what we already know gives us greater potential for success!

Arturo Miller

Hi, I am Arturo Miller, the Chief Editor of this blog. I'm a passionate reader, learner and blogger. Motivated by the desire to help others reach their fullest potential, I draw from my own experiences and insights to curate blogs.

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