Here are my notes fro So Good They Can’t Ignore You by Cal Newport. I do recommend you read this book.
You need to be good at something before you can expect a good job.
Rule #1: Don’t follow your passion
Steve Jobs wasn’t particularly interested in technology or electronics as a student. He studied Western history and dance, and dabbled in Eastern mysticism. He dabbled in electronics only when it promised to earn him quick cash. Apple was not born out of passion, but instead was the result of a lucky break a “small time” scheme that unexpectedly took off.
Passion takes time. According to Amy Wrzesniewski, a professor at Yale, a job is a way to pay the bills, a career is a path toward better work and a calling is work that’s an important part of your life and identity. The more experience an assistant had, the more likely she was to love her work. In Wrzesniewski’s research, the happiest employees are not the ones who followed their passion to a position, but instead those who have been around long enough to become good at what they do.
Workers need autonomy, competence and relatedness to feel intrinsically motivated.
Observing a few instances of a strategy working does not make it universally effective.
Rule #2: Be so good they can’t ignore you. (advice from Steve Martin)
If you’re a guitar player or comedian, aha thou produce is basically all that matters. If you spend too much time focusing ton whether or not you’v found your true calling, the question will be rendered moot when you find yourself out of work.
You need to get good in order to get good things in your working life. Adopt a craftsman mindset.
Consider the story of Lisa Feuer, who quit her career in advertising and marketing at the age of 39, took a 200 hour yoga instruction and started Karma Kids Yoga. In 2009, she was on track to make $15,000.
Being good at something is difficult to obtain, but valuable.
There is a difference between playing the guitar and practicing the guitar. Research shows that the chess players who became grand masters didn’t just play for 10,000 hours, they spent five times more hours dedicated to serious study. Anders Ericsson talks about “deliberate practice” which is the key to becoming an expert.
“Doing things we know how to do well is enjoyable, and that’s exactly the opposite of what deliberate practice demands….Deliverate practice is above all an effort of focus and concentration. That is what makes it “deliberate,” as distinct from the mindless playing of scales or hitting of tennis balls that most people engage in.” – Geoff Colvin
Stop calculating your bounce rate and figure out how to say something people really care about.
If you’re not uncomfortable, then you’re probably stuck at an acceptable level. Harsh feedback is necessary to focus on progress.
Rule #3: Turn Down a Promotion
Daniel Pink in Drive found more control leads to better grades, better sports performance, better productivity and more happiness.
Just because you are committed to an idea doesn’t mean you’ll find people committed to supporting it.
Control that’s acquired without career capital is not sustainable. If nobody cares what you do with your working life, you may not have enough career capital to do anything interesting.
Do what people are willing to pay for.
Rule #4: Think Small, Act Big
People who feel like their careers matter are more satisfied with their working life and more resistant to the stress of hard work.
Researchers from Columbia University explain most ideas are discovered in the “adjacent possible.”
“We take ideas we’ve inherited or that we’ve stumbled across, and we higher them together into some new shape. The next big ideas in any field are found right beyond the current cutting edge,” – Steven Johnson, Where Good Ideas Come From
Kirk French, the archeologist heard a message. “I’ve got what I think is the treasure of the Knights Templar in by backyard.” The professor who played that message laughed, but Kirk thought, “This is EXACTLY what archeologists should be doing.” Created a project called The Armchair Archeologist. The Discovery Channel bought out his contract and the show American Treasures was created.
“Rather than believing they have to start with a big idea or plan out a whole project in advance, they make a methodical series of little bets about what might be a good direction, learning critical information from lots of little failures and from small but significant wins.” – Peter Sims, in Little Bets, writing about successful innovators.
Chris Rock made between forth and fifty unannounced visits to a small New Jersey-area comedy club in preparing for an HBO special. Most of his material falls flat.
Innovation is more systematic than you think.
Passion for your work is vital, but it may be a fool’s errand to figure out in advance what work will lead to that passion.
If you don’t have a trusted strategy for making this leap from idea to execution, then like me and so many others, you’ll probably avoid the leap altogether.
You’re either remarkable or invisible. – Seth Godin in Purple Cow