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So Good They Cant Ignore You


  • Author: [[Newport, Cal]]


Passing this koan is the first of the “eight gates” of Zen Buddhism. — location: 62 ^ref-5135

He had reached the zenith of his passion—he could now properly call himself a Zen practitioner—and yet, he was not experiencing the undiluted peace and happiness that had populated his daydreams. — location: 80 ^ref-60319

Thomas had followed his passion to the Zen Mountain Monastery, believing, as many do, that the key to happiness is identifying your true calling and then chasing after it with all the courage you can muster. But as Thomas experienced that late Sunday afternoon in the oak forest, this belief is frighteningly naïve. Fulfilling his dream to become a full-time Zen practitioner did not magically make his life wonderful. As Thomas discovered, the path to happiness—at least as it concerns what you do for a living—is more complicated than simply answering the classic question “What should I do with my life?” — location: 83 ^ref-55967

The narratives in this book are bound by a common thread: the importance of ability. The things that make a great job great, I discovered, are rare and valuable. If you want them in your working life, you need something rare and valuable to offer in return. In other words, you need to be good at something before you can expect a good job. — location: 119 ^ref-49000

Chapter One The “Passion” of Steve Jobs In which I question the validity of the passion hypothesis, which says that the key to occupational happiness is to match your job to a pre-existing passion — location: 140 ^ref-32815

Chapter Two Passion Is Rare In which I argue that the more you seek examples of the passion hypothesis, the more you recognize its rarity. — location: 223 ^ref-10022

Conclusion #1: Career Passions Are Rare — location: 260 ^ref-9277

A job, in Wrzesniewski’s formulation, is a way to pay the bills, a career is a path toward increasingly better work, and a calling is work that’s an important part of your life and a vital part of your identity — location: 275 ^ref-43427

Conclusion #2: Passion Takes Time — location: 272 ^ref-2588

Conclusion #3: Passion Is a Side Effect of Mastery — location: 296 ^ref-21765

Autonomy: the feeling that you have control over your day, and that your actions are important Competence: the feeling that you are good at what you do Relatedness: the feeling of connection to other people — location: 304 ^ref-11357

the idea of doing a lot of pen-and-paper exercises in order to take control of your own career was regarded as a dilettante’s exercise — location: 324 ^ref-52892

In which I introduce two different approaches to thinking about work: the craftsman mindset, a focus on what value you’re producing in your job, and the passion mindset, a focus on what value your job offers you. Most people adopt the passion mindset, but in this chapter I argue that the craftsman mindset is the foundation for creating work you love — location: 390 ^ref-59200

“Nobody ever takes note of [my advice], because it’s not the answer they wanted to hear,” Martin said. “What they want to hear is ‘Here’s how you get an agent, here’s how you write a script,’… but I always say, ‘Be so good they can’t ignore you. — location: 440 ^ref-10446

To simplify things going forward, I’ll call this output-centric approach to work the craftsman mindset. My goal in Rule #2 is to convince you of an idea that became clearer to me the more time I spent studying performers such as Tice: Irrespective of what type of work you do, the craftsman mindset is crucial for building a career you love. Before we get ahead of ourselves, however, I want to take a moment to contrast this mindset with the way most of us are used to thinking about our livelihood. — location: 479 ^ref-13608

Whereas the craftsman mindset focuses on what you can offer the world, the passion mindset focuses instead on what the world can offer you. This mindset is how most people approach their working lives. — location: 488 ^ref-11457

Jordan had a name for the worries about what his friends are doing with their lives and whether his accomplishments compare favorably: “the cloud of external distractions.” — location: 518 ^ref-52598

The Power of Career Capital In which I justify the importance of the craftsman mindset by arguing that the traits that make a great job great are rare and valuable, and therefore, if you want a great job, you need to build up rare and valuable skills—which I call career capital—to offer in return. — location: 531 ^ref-57740

RAITS THAT DEFINE GREAT WORK Creativity: Ira Glass, for example, is pushing the boundaries of radio, and winning armfuls of awards in the process. Impact: From the Apple II to the iPhone, Steve Jobs has changed the way we live our lives in the digital age. Control: No one tells Al Merrick when to wake up or what to wear. He’s not expected in an office from nine to five. Instead, his Channel Island Surfboards factory is located a block from the Santa Barbara beach, where Merrick still regularly spends time surfing — location: 541 ^ref-8900

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 — location: 596 ^ref-39772

—I’m being intensely pragmatic: You need to get good in order to get good things in your working life, and the craftsman mindset is focused on achieving exactly this goal — location: 605 ^ref-52426

HREE DISQUALIFIERS FOR APPLYING THE CRAFTSMAN MINDSET The job presents few opportunities to distinguish yourself by developing relevant skills that are rare and valuable. The job focuses on something you think is useless or perhaps even actively bad for the world. The job forces you to work with people you really dislike — location: 686 ^ref-49689

The Career Capitalists In which I demonstrate the power of career capital in action with two profiles of people who leveraged the craftsman mindset to construct careers they love. — location: 702 ^ref-3848

Mike Jackson leveraged the craftsman mindset to do whatever he did really well, thus ensuring that he came away from each experience with as much career capital as possible. He never had elaborate plans for his career. Instead, after each working experience, he would stick his head up to see who was interested in his newly expanded store of capital, and then jump at whatever opportunity seemed most promising — location: 853 ^ref-57952

Even at that young age I realized that my discomfort with mental discomfort was a liability in the performance world. — location: 889 ^ref-18830

if you just show up and work hard, you’ll soon hit a performance plateau beyond which you fail to get any better — location: 987 ^ref-13236

Step 1: Decide What Capital Market You’re In — location: 1061 ^ref-19090

There are two types of these markets: winner-take-all and auction. In a winner-take-all market, there is only one type of career capital available, and lots of different people competing for it. — location: 1063 ^ref-16544

auction market, by contrast, is less structured: There are many different types of career capital, and each person might generate a unique collection. — location: 1066 ^ref-388

Deliberate practice is often the opposite of enjoyable. — location: 1122 ^ref-1464

If “follow your passion” is bad advice, what should you do instead? It contended that the traits that define great work are rare and valuable. If you want these traits in your own life, you need rare and valuable skills to offer in return. I called these rare and valuable skills career capital, and noted that the foundation of constructing work you love is acquiring a large store of this capital — location: 1156 ^ref-53758

Rule #1 took on the conventional wisdom about how people end up loving what they do. It argued that the passion hypothesis, which says that the key to loving your work is to match a job to a pre-existing passion, is bad advice. There’s little evidence that most people have pre-existing passions waiting to be discovered, and believing that there’s a magical right job lurking out there can often lead to chronic unhappiness and confusion when the reality of the working world fails to match this dream. Rule #2 was the first to tackle the natural follow-up question: If “follow your passion” is bad advice, what should you do instead? It contended that the traits that define great work are rare and valuable. If you want these traits in your own life, you need rare and valuable skills to offer in return. I called these rare and valuable skills career capital, and noted that the foundation of constructing work you love is acquiring a large store of this capital. With this in mind, we turned our attention to this process of capital acquisition. I argued that it’s important to adopt the craftsman mindset, where you focus relentlessly on what value you’re offering the world. This stands in stark contrast to the much more common passion mindset, which has you focus only on what value the world is offering you. Even with the craftsman mindset, however, becoming “so good they can’t ignore you” is not trivial. To help these efforts I introduced the well-studied concept of deliberate practice, an approach to work where you deliberately stretch your abilities beyond where you’re comfortable and then receive ruthless feedback on your performance. Musicians, athletes, and chess players know all about deliberate practice. Knowledge workers, however, do not. This is great news for knowledge workers: If you can introduce this strategy into your working life you can vault past your peers in your acquisition of career capital. — location: 1151 ^ref-48144

In which I argue that control over what you do, and how you do it, is one of the most powerful traits you can acquire when creating work you love — location: 1171 ^ref-51139

Chapter Eight The Dream-Job Elixir In which I argue that control over what you do, and how you do it, is one of the most powerful traits you can acquire when creating work you love — location: 1170 ^ref-3239

As I’ll argue next, control isn’t just the source of Ryan and Sarah’s appeal, but it turns out to be one of the most universally important traits that you can acquire with your career capital—something so powerful and so essential to the quest for work you love that I’ve taken to calling it the dream-job elixir. — location: 1240 ^ref-6599

To summarize, if your goal is to love what you do, your first step is to acquire career capital. Your next step is to invest this capital in the traits that define great work. Control is one of the most important targets you can choose for this investment. — location: 1270 ^ref-54571

The First Control Trap Control that’s acquired without career capital is not sustainable. — location: 1301 ^ref-29324

The Second Control Trap In which I introduce the second control trap, which warns that once you have enough career capital to acquire more control in your working life, you have become valuable enough to your employer that they will fight your efforts to gain more autonomy — location: 1340 ^ref-31429

Lurking in this story, however, is a hidden danger. Though Lulu’s career was satisfyingly self-directed, the path to acquiring this freedom generated conflict. Almost every time she invested her career capital to obtain the most control, she also encountered resistance. When she leveraged her value to obtain a thirty-hour schedule at her first job, for example, her employer couldn’t say no (she was saving them too much money), but they didn’t like it. It took nerve on Lulu’s part to push through that demand. Similarly, when she turned down a major promotion to take an ill-defined position at a seven-person start-up, people in her life didn’t understand — location: 1395 ^ref-43178

The Second Control Trap The point at which you have acquired enough career capital to get meaningful control over your working life is exactly the point when you’ve become valuable enough to your current employer that they will try to prevent you from making the change. — location: 1431 ^ref-63156

This is the irony of control. When no one cares what you do with your working life, you probably don’t have enough career capital to do anything interesting — location: 1428 ^ref-9830

The key, it seems, is to know when the time is right to become courageous in your career decisions. Get this timing right, and a fantastic working life awaits you, but get it wrong by tripping the first control trap in a premature bid for autonomy, and disaster lurks. — location: 1445 ^ref-55505

“I follow a rule with my life that if something is scary, do it. I’ve lived everywhere in America, and for me, a big scary thing was living outside the country. — location: 1483 ^ref-44976

“I have this principle about money that overrides my other life rules,” he said. “Do what people are willing to pay for.” — location: 1495 ^ref-24725

He also emphasized that hobbies are clearly exempt from this rule. “If I want to learn to scuba dive, for example, because I think it’s fun, and people won’t pay me to do that, I don’t care, I’m going to do it anyway,” he said. But when it comes to decisions affecting your core career, money remains an effective judge of value. “If you’re struggling to raise money for an idea, or are thinking that you will support your idea with unrelated work, then you need to rethink the idea — location: 1499 ^ref-27371

The Law of Financial Viability When deciding whether to follow an appealing pursuit that will introduce more control into your work life, seek evidence of whether people are willing to pay for it. If you find this evidence, continue. If not, move on — location: 1510 ^ref-62379

The Meaningful Life of Pardis Sabeti In which I argue that a unifying mission to your working life can be a source of great satisfaction. — location: 1561 ^ref-9033

(One of the classic examples of recent human evolution is lactose tolerance—the ability to digest milk into adulthood—a trait that didn’t start spreading through the human population until we domesticated milk-producing animals. — location: 1594 ^ref-34824

Missions Require Little Bets In which I argue that great missions are transformed into great successes as the result of using small and achievable projects—little bets—to explore the concrete possibilities surrounding a compelling idea — location: 1774 ^ref-26285

The Law of Remarkability For a mission-driven project to succeed, it should be remarkable in two different ways. First, it must compel people who encounter it to remark about it to others. Second, it must be launched in a venue that supports such remarking. — location: 2030 ^ref-4482

In sum, mission is one of the most important traits you can acquire with your career capital. But adding this trait to your working life is not simple. Once you have the capital to identify a good mission, you must still work to make it succeed. By using little bets and the law of remarkability, you greatly increase your chances of finding ways to transform your mission from a compelling idea into a compelling career — location: 2073 ^ref-31191

The core idea of this book is simple: To construct work you love, you must first build career capital by mastering rare and valuable skills, and then cash in this capital for the type of traits that define compelling careers. Mission is one of those traits. In the first chapter of this rule, I reinforced the idea that this trait, like all desirable career traits, really does require career capital—you can’t skip straight into a great mission without first building mastery in your field. Drawing from the terminology of Steven Johnson, I argued that the best ideas for missions are found in the adjacent possible—the region just beyond the current cutting edge. To encounter these ideas, therefore, you must first get to that cutting edge, which in turn requires expertise. To try to devise a mission when you’re new to a field and lacking any career capital is a venture bound for failure. Once you identify a general mission, however, you’re still left with the task of launching specific projects that make it succeed. An effective strategy for accomplishing this task is to try small steps that generate concrete feedback—little bets—and then use this feedback, be it good or bad, to help figure out what to try next. This systematic exploration can help you uncover an exceptional way forward that you might have never otherwise noticed. The little-bets strategy, I discovered as my research into mission continued, is not the only way to make a mission a success. It also helps to adopt the mindset of a marketer. This led to the strategy that I dubbed the law of remarkability. This law says that for a project to transform a mission into a success, it should be remarkable in two ways. First, it must literally compel people to remark about it. Second, it must be launched in a venue conducive to such remarking. — location: 2059 ^ref-34726