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In this eye-opening account, Cal Newport debunks the long-held belief that "follow your passion" is good advice. Not only is the cliché flawed-preexisting passions are rare and have little to do with how most people end up loving their work-but it can also be dangerous, leading to anxiety and chronic job hopping. After making his case against passion, Newport sets out on a quest to discover the reality of how people end up loving what they do. Spending time with organic farmers, venture capitalists, screenwriters, freelance computer programmers, and others who admitted to deriving great satisfaction from their work, Newport uncovers the strategies they used and the pitfalls they avoided in developing their compelling careers. Matching your job to a preexisting passion does not matter, he reveals. Passion comes after you put in the hard work to become excellent at something valuable, not before. In other words, what you do for a living is much less important than how you do it. With a title taken from the comedian Steve Martin, who once said his advice for aspiring entertainers was to "be So Good They Can't Ignore You," Cal Newport's clearly written manifesto is mandatory reading for anyone fretting about what to do with their life, or frustrated by their current job situation and eager to find a fresh new way to take control of their livelihood. He provides an evidence-based blueprint for creating work you love. So Good They Can't Ignore You will change the way we think about our careers, happiness, and the crafting of a remarkable life.
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The world doesn’t owe you happiness. Your boss has no reason to let you choose your own projects, or spend one week out of every four writing a novel at your beach house. These rewards are valuable. To earn them, you must accumulate your own career capital by mastering a skill that’s equally rare and valuable.
Why do some people create successful, enjoyable and meaningful lives and careers while so many others do not?
According to the popular cliche, the key to success is to “follow your passion” -- that is, to do what you love and the money will just naturally flow to you in some mysterious way. The only problem with that idea is when you’re first getting started, this is impractical. People hire you to perform a task they’re willing to pay you to do. Whether you love it or not and whether you’re following your passion or not is irrelevant.
Instead of going on a quest to find work which matches your passions, get busy building career capital. Once you have a reservoir of career capital in place, you can then use some of that capital to get control over what you do and to do stuff that’s important. That’s the smart way to build a fulfilling career.
Instead of trying to find work you’re genuinely passionate about, focus on being so good they can’t ignore you.
“The conventional wisdom on career success— follow your passion— is seriously flawed. It not only fails to describe how most people actually end up with compelling careers, but for many people it can actually make things worse: leading to chronic job shifting and unrelenting angst when one’s reality inevitably falls short of the dream. Working right trumps finding the right work— it’s a simple idea, but it’s also incredibly subversive, as it overturns decades of folk career advice all focused on the mystical value of passion. It wrenches us away from our daydreams of an overnight transformation into instant job bliss and provides instead a more sober way toward fulfillment. It’s my hope that the insights that follow will free you from simplistic catchphrases like “follow your passion” and “do what you love”— the type of catchphrases that have helped spawn the career confusion that afflicts so many today— and instead, provide you with a realistic path toward a meaningful and engaging working life.” — Cal Newport
Most people have been told all their lives the key to occupational happiness is to match your job to your preexisting passions. That doesn’t work in all but a few rare cases and if you subscribe to the passion hypothesis, you end up being unhappy for most of your career. Simply put “follow your passion” is bad advice.
Steve Jobs gave the commencement address to Stanford’s graduating class in 2005. About two-thirds of the way through this address to a class of 23,000 -- for which he received a standing ovation, -- Steve Jobs said: “You’ve got to find what you love. The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking, and don’t settle."
For many people, that career advice is incredibly alluring and basically all you need. The video of Steve Jobs giving this talk has been viewed on YouTube more than 3.5 million times and just about every report of that talk includes the observation: “Steve Jobs urged graduates to pursue their dreams.” This can be summed up in what can be termed “the Passion Hypothesis”:
The passion hypothesis is probably one of modern society’s most enduring and pervasive ideas. Hundreds of books by a bevy of selfproclaimed gurus have been written based on or around this hypothesis and some people openly despair when they can’t find work which is aligned with what they believe to be heir passions.
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