- Title: So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for the Work You Love (Amazon) (Goodreads)
- Author: Cal Newport
- Publication: Grand Central Publishing (Sept. 18, 2012)
- Pages: 304
- Genre: Business & Finances
- Format: Hardcover
- Source: Library
- Rating: 5/5 stars
Are you following your passion? More than likely you’re doing it wrong.
Reading So Good They Can’t Ignore You might change your mind about passion. It did for me.
For the longest time, I thought it was great to follow what makes you happy. While I was reading this book, I realized why my initial idea wasn’t always the best.
I wanted to be an actress since I watched Home Alone for the first time when I was a kid. The career looked like fun. Throughout middle and high school, I took theatre classes and performed various stage productions.
While I was taking those opportunities, I realized I had a knack for scriptwriting, but didn’t pay much attention to it.
Eventually, I majored in theatre in college. The excitement for acting began to wane as my interest for scriptwriting grew. There weren’t many writing opportunities, so I took the little what was offered and a playwriting apprenticeship outside of school.
Not only did writing made me happy, but I also wanted to get better at it. Something I didn’t mainly think about when I was on the acting path.
After undergrad, I moved on to obtain my master’s degree in dramatic writing, a study mixing playwriting, screenwriting, and television writing altogether.
To this day, I continue to learn by endlessly writing, submitting scripts to competitions, and reading books on the craft.
Cal Newport’s main point in So Good They Can’t Ignore You is to have passion following you instead you following it.
Ask yourself consistently what do you enjoy and how to get better at it. The better your skills, the more valuable you are in the career market.
Here are some key terms in So Good They Can’t Ignore You you’ll find.
- Career capital
- Craftsman mindset
- Deliberate practice
- Pasion mindset
Career capital is the number of rare skills you obtain in your field.
How many languages you know working at the UN? What skills make you stand out as a photographer than the rest?
The main goal of upgrading your career capital is to know what the average don’t know, to do what they don’t do. That’s how you become extraordinary.
As you grow, you’ll become a valuable asset to your employer. If you’re working solo, potential clients will be banging on your door and jamming your inbox for your expertise.
The more career capital, the better. You’ll be able to shape your schedule and choose your projects.
The craftsman mindset is to improve your craft, experimenting with your skills endlessly.Newport uses TV writer Alex Berger as a craftsman example.
Berger moved to Los Angeles and began writing for National Lampoon magazine. Seeing it wasn’t taking him where he wanted to go with his writing, he landed a TV writing position working on multiple scripts at once. Eventually, he fell in the TV producer’s seat.
How? He never stopped writing and always reached for the opportunities to do better.
Now, if he came to Hollywood following his passion, he would’ve dropped out as soon as the work grew too hectic. Hollywood’s no kids playground. To get stronger, you need deliberate practice.
Deliberate practice is repeatedly improving and asking for feedback on your skills. Plus, it’s stretching yourself out to do the uncomfortable until it becomes the new comfortable.
Back in college, for example, I wanted to lose weight. I started walking around the school track field for 30 minutes about 4-5 times a week. The workout was more than I was used to so it worked.
Later on, I went up to walking for 45 minutes to two hours (only on weekends). Doing this five times a week helped me lose weight (my legs hated me for it though).
If you dream of being a successful travel blogger, don’t quit your day job and try to live off overseas like you’re Tim Ferriss. You’re working with passion the wrong way with this mindset.
If you want to blog about the best restaurants in Paris or your encounter with the Maori tribe in New Zealand, you have to let the passion follow you by:
- learning survival skills
- learn multiple languages (become a teacher or a translator)
- Develop expert traveling tips (right time to book a flight, passports, etc.)
- Blogging experience
- Expert knowledge of various cultures and customs
- Travel writing (travel reviews, submitting stories to travel magazines)
Become a master of these skills, and the world will become your oyster. You’ll have travel opportunities coming left and right.
So Good They Can’t Ignore You has changed my outlook on passion. Passion is more about career development than searching for that one “happily ever after” fulfilling career.
After reading Deep Work, I knew this book wasn’t going to be a disappointment. Cal Newport always takes the concept of work success to a whole new level.
What is your definition of passion? Do you agree with Cal Newport’s argument on passion or not?
Related book reviews:
- Deep Work by Cal Newport
- The 10x rule by Grant Cardone
- The Art of Doing by Camille Sweeney & Josh Gosfield
(Book Pic: Goodreads)