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So Good They Can't Ignore You

So Good They Can't Ignore You

by Cal Newport

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"Follow your passions" is bad advice

"Follow your passions" is bad advice

Few people have a passion that neatly translates into a career, and following one's passions often leads to misguided career moves. Rather, your satisfaction at work has more to do with your experience with that work rather than the type of work.

To have intrinsic motivation at work, you need:

  1. Autonomy - feeling like you have control over your time
  2. Competence – the feeling that you’re good at your work
  3. Relatedness – connecting with other people in the process

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Think about what you can offer the world

  • A "passion mindset" focuses on what the world can offer to you - what perfect job can you find to fit your passions? This often leads to confusion and wandering from job to job.
  • A "craftsman mindset" focuses on what you can offer the world in whatever position you are in and offers clarity.

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To get a great job you have to offer something great

A job that satisfies the ingredients of intrinsic motivation is rare and valuable, so you need to develop rare and valuable skills to offer in exchange.

Career capital = the value of competencies, knowledge and individual personality attributes you have to produce economic value." (LinkedIn)

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It takes practice to build career capital

Deliberate practice = practice that stretches your abilities and provides instant feedback

It has been estimated by interviewing masters of particular skills that to excel at a complex task takes 10,000 hours of practice. You need to have patience and keep working.

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Use career capital to "buy" perks

Once you've developed your career capital and learned some rare and valuable skills, you will be more valuable to your employer.

Use this leverage to negotiate shorter hours, more freedom, etc.

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Take on "little bets"

Little bets = bite-sized, carefully chosen projects that take no more than a few months, give you valuable feedback, and help you to determine your next steps.

You don't need to commit to a project that will determine your work life for the next few years. Take on small projects and continuously adapt.

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The "law of remarkability"

To create a successful project it must:

  1. Compel people who discover it to tell others (nothing that has been done before or is boring)
  2. Be launched in a venue that supports that sharing (the internet, social media, research journals, etc.)

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For lasting success, abandon the passion mindset for the craftsman's mindset

The passion mindset asks “What does this job offer me?".The craftsman's mindset finds joy in developing news skills and then puts them to work, by asking “What am I offering the world?

Shockingly Unproductive

  • Studies show that employees spend more than five hours per day reading and replying to emailsWhile it may seem like urgent work, email is not the best kind of work.

Facilitate Deep Work

A few smart strategies that can be deployed:

  1. Installing pods for deep work while having common areas for collaborative work.
  2. Wearing headphones that are easily seen to signal that you are not to be disturbed.
  3. Turning your office into a library, following the same culture of quietness where everyone is hushed and respectful.

Email is not Real Work

Real work, by definition, should be rare, valuable and cognitively demanding.

Email does not check any of these boxes, and is, therefore, a pseudo work.

Do Less — Then Obsess

Top performers definitely focus on fewer goals — but they also obsess like crazy over them, to produce quality work.

That extreme dedication to their priorities creates extraordinary r...

Deliberate Practice In The Workplace

  • Pick one and only one skill at a time to develop.
  • Dedicate 15 minutes a day to reviewing your performance on a workplace skill. 
  • Isolate micro-behaviors. If you want to give a better presentation, break down what goes into a good presentation and set a goal. 
  • Get feedback. Ask people what you can do to improve.

Feel Passion & Purpose

  • People think passion has to come from being excited about the tasks you perform. It doesn’t. There are 6 ways to derive passion from your work: Task passion, achievement passion, creative passion, people passion, learning passion and competence passion.
  • Purpose is about creating value for others in a way that is personally meaningful to you. It's less about the actual tasks you perform and more about how you frame them.