So Good They Can't Ignore You


Passion hypothesis: figure out what you are passionate about, find a job that matches the passion and pursue it for occupational happiness.

Passion hypothesis came up in 1970's. In 1987, a survery said 61 percent are happy with their jobs. The number went down to 45 percent by 2010. But these were the years of booming passing hypothesis.

The author Steven Pink finds that a job will be fulfilling if it gives you autonomy, creativity and connection to the work place. Note that passion does not come here. The first two things come after spending years in the job, which the passion hypothesis fails.

To feel intrinsically motivated for your work, you should have

Traits that define a great job are control, impact and creativity. Both of these lists does not say passion. These traits are acquired by years of practice.

The passion mindset is wrong and potentially dangerous. It leads to ambiguos questions like "Who am I?", "What do I truly love?" and the answers are hard to confirm. The alternative is craftsman mindset. It focuses on what you can offer to the world whereas passion mindset looks at what the world offers to you. Craftsman mindset offers clarity by turning your attention to becoming so good, they can't ignore you.

Supply and demand says that the skills which make a job great are rare and valuable. To have a great job, you should have rare and valuable skills. These skills are a your career capital. The craftsman mindset with its relentless focus on becoming "so good, they can't ignore you" is well-suited for acquiring career capital.

The craftsman mindset fails when:

To reach the elite level, you must perform deliberate practice. If you just show up and work hard, you will soon hit a performance plateau beyond which you fail to get any better. Deliberate practice is stretching of skills beyond comfortable accompanied by instant feedback, so as to improve on the task and avoid plateau.

A study of chess players revelead that players who did serious study of the game truimphed players who only improved thier skills be tournament. Players who did serious study of the game were doing deliberate practice and it improved their skills.

Five habits of a craftsman:

The hardest phase is to force yourself through the work, force the skills to come. You develop these skills until you are too valuable to be ignored.

Control over what you do and how you increases your happiness, engagement, and a sense of fulfillment. Control acquired without capital is not sustainable. Only after you have demonstrated that you have the career capital, you will bid for more control (freedom). When you have gained enough capital to acquire meaningful control over your working life, your employer will resist your bid for more freedom.

You should only pursue a bid for more control if you have evidence that people are willing to pay you for. Money is a neutral indicator of value. Do what people are willing to pay for. If people are not willing to pay for the project, then you don't have sufficient capital in exchange for the control you desire.

Missions give you a sense of purpose and energy to your work. To identify a mission, you have to be at the cutting edge in your field. To satisfy a mission, you need relevant career capital. Both of the above are complementary - when you reach the cutting edge of your field, you would have acquired enough career capital to purse your mission. At the cutting edge, the field of adjacent possibles becomes visible.

Take little bets. Little bets help you expore compelling ideas in the field of adjacent possible.

For example, to get to the cutting edge, the author (Cal Newport) gives a weekly target of mastering a academic proof and he takes little bets which are small side-projects to try out compelling ideas.

A mission requires marketing. It must be remarkable and must be launched in a venue where should remarking is made easy. Example: The best way to market yourself as a programmer is to create remarkable open-source software.