So Good They Can’t Ignore You

Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love

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Rule 1: Don’t Follow your passion

The conventional wisdom on career success — follow your passion — is seriously flawed. “follow your passion” assumes that people have a pre-existing passion they can identify and use to make career decisions. The passion hypothesis convinces people that there is a magic right job waiting for them. However, most people have no idea what they want to do and can end up feeling lost.

  1. Competence: the feeling that you’re good at your work
  2. Relatedness: connecting with other people in the process

Rule 2: The Importance of Skill

Two different approaches to thinking about work:

  1. The Passion Mindset: Focus on what value your job offers you.

The Craftsman Mindset

The craftsman mindset focuses on what you can offer the world.

The Passion Mindset

The passion mindset focuses on what the world can offer you.

The Power of Career Capital

The traits that define great work are rare and valuable. Supply and demand says that if you want these traits you need rare and valuable skills to offer in return. Think of these rare and valuable skills you can offer as your career capital. The craftsman mindset, with its relentless focus on becoming “so good they can’t ignore you,” is a strategy well suited for acquiring career capital.

  1. The job focuses on something you think is useless or perhaps even actively bad for the world.
  2. The job forces you to work with people you really dislike.

The 10,000-Hour Rule

The idea that excellence at performing a complex task requires a critical minimum level of practice surfaces again and again in studies of expertise. In fact, researchers have settled on what they believe is the magic number for true expertise: ten thousand hours. Great accomplishment is not about natural talent, but instead about being in the right place at the right time to accumulate such a massive amount of practice.

Rule 3: The importance of control

Autonomy is the dominating factor for job satisfaction. The more control you have in your job, the more likely you are to stay and enjoy doing it.

Rule 4: The importance of Mission

To have a mission is to have a unifying focus for your career. It is more general than a specific job and can span multiple positions.

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