Today on Think It Through Thursday, I present to you a brief summary of Cal Newport’s 2012 release, “So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love.” As I await the arrival of his latest release, “Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World,” I thought this would be helpful for me – and you, too.

“What you do for a living is much less important than how you do it.” –  inside cover.

” ‘Follow your passion’ is dangerous advice.” – introduction, p. ix. 

Chapter One – The “Passion” of Steve Jobs

Newport questions the validity of the passion hypothesis. He references Steve Jobs’ 2005 Stanford commencement speech.  Do what Steve Jobs did – but not what he said -with regard to ‘follow your passion.’

Rule #1: Don’t Follow Your Passion

Chapter Two – Passion Is Rare

Passion Takes Time – be around long enough to get good at what you do. By “working right” i.e. taking the time to develop experience, by developing rare and valuable skills, you don’t need to ‘find the right work.’ In other words, working right trumps finding the right work.

Chapter Three – Passion Is Dangerous

Telling someone to follow their passion may lead to burnout or worse. On the rare occasion following your passion works, there are other factors to consider.

Rule #2: Be So Good They Can’t Ignore You (Or, the Importance of Skill).

Chapter Four – The Clarity of the Craftsman

Which is more valuable – focusing on what value you produce, or what value you gain

The craftsman mindset “a focus on what value you’re producing in your job.”

The passion mindset, “a focus on what value your job offers you.”

Chapter Five – The Power of Career Capital

Which rare and valuable skills can you build up to invest into your career capital

Great work is defined by creativity, impact, and control. Naturally, the vast majority of entry-level jobs require little creativity, produce low impact, and offer you little control. The opportunity to do great work is bought with the career capital grown through applying the craftsman mindset to developing rare and valuable skills.

Chapter Six – The Career Capitalists

Which rare and valuable skills can you build up to invest into your career capital

In which a scriptwriter makes it in Hollywood and a college graduate worked his way into being a Silicon Valley investor. How? By focusing on capabilities – whether writing great scripts or having a deep understanding of key growth markets. Both of these are rare and valuable skills.

Chapter Seven – Becoming a Craftsman

What is the key strategy for acquiring career capital?

Pushing the limits of your skills and gaining immediate, specific feedback through deliberate practice. It’s a form of deep work focused on growing your skills through regular, repeated, focused, practice. Be dedicated to deep practice. Two examples: crave criticism and don’t check email.

The Five Habits of a Craftsman

  1. Decide What Capital Market You’re In. A winner-takes-all market, where only one major skill matters – for example, in blogging, do people care about what you write? Or an auction market, where various skills matter – for example, in venture capital, can you network? Can you understand financing? Do you know business?
  2. Identify Your Capital Type. Refer back to 1 – is there one factor that matters? Or several? Which factor should you focus on? Writing good copy? Making great presentations? Connecting to influencers?
  3. Define ‘Good.’ Knowing to what level you need to develop your skills is crucial. If you do, you can develop clear goals to guide your deliberate practice.
  4. Stretch and Destroy. “Doing things we know how to do well is enjoyable” but it is NOT deliberate practice. As a musician, that’s playing – fine and fun, but not going to improve your skills. You need to focus your attention on what matters. See step 3, where you should have set your goals! It always helps to find good mentorsteachers, and coaches.
  5. Be Patient. Be diligent. Be consistent. Show up, day after day, and stay on task, stay focused, get good.

Next Thursday, I’ll finish the summary and note my action points derived from my reading of the book.

Think It Through this Thursday on Twitter, connect on LinkedIn, or comment below!

Other posts this week on Hybrid Consonance:

Move on Monday: How we move our bodies is crucial to moving into action and getting into the right mindset. As a musician, I know how crucial breathing is. This is a short breathe breeze through an important topic.

Talk On Tuesday: “Infinite Scrolling isn’t Infinite, and other Digital Decluttering Discoveries”. I look at some actions I’ve taken recently in the light of the trend towards ‘Digital Minimalism.

Work On Wednesday: High Potential and High Performance are phrases capturing the minds and the money of a growing number of people. I am working towards the terms “Holistic High Potential.” As I prepare to speak at the Just Learning Conference 2019 on February 16th, I’ll continue to share my thoughts on this important topic. See the post about Harnessing High Potential here, and High Potential: Mindset, Motion, and Mentoring here.

Think It Through Thursday: With all the buzz around Cal Newport’s book, “Digital Minimalism,” I thought it high time I actually read and absorbed his book on finding the right work working right: “So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trumps Passion In Finding the Work You Love.” (That’s this post you’ve just read! Part 2 next week.)

Full Cup Friday: Like here and here, I’ll share three tips, three wins and highlights, and a preview of the week to come on Hybrid Consonance.

Like what you’ve read? Please comment below, on Twitter, or connect on LinkedIn.

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