Why You Should Not Follow Your Passion

April 18, 2013 by  
Filed under Personal

Most success experts would tell you to follow your passion and you would be happy and successful in your work. However this could be bad advice, as argued by Cal Newport in his book, So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love.

Don’t Follow Your Passion

Cal explains that the common advice to first figure out what you are passionate about and then find a job that matches this passion, is flawed and could do more harm than good. He shares that career passions are rare and that passion takes time to develop and is a side effect of mastery.

Be So Good They Can’t Ignore You (Importance of Skill)

If following your passion is not useful advice, then what should you do instead? Cal recommends that you be so good that people can’t ignore you, or focus on skills. Adopt the craftsman mindset and build up rare and valuable skills you can offer the world as your career capital.

He also encourages deliberate practice, an approach to work where you deliberately stretch your abilities beyond your comfort zone and then receive ruthless feedback on your performance.

Turn Down a Promotion (Importance of Control)

Next, Cal recommends that you invest your career capital in the traits that define great work, and gaining control is one important trait. Having control over what you do and how you do it leads to happiness, engagement and a sense of fulfillment.

However, you should avoid gaining more control without enough capital to back it up, and also take note that your employer might fight to keep you on a more traditional path once you have enough capital.

One way to determine whether or not you have enough career capital to pursue more control, is to do what people are willing to pay for.

Think Small, Act Big (Importance of Mission)

Another important trait is mission, and the best ideas for missions are found in the adjacent possible – the region just beyond the current cutting edge, which requires you to have expertise.

Cal shares that to make a mission a success, try small steps that generate concrete feedback and then use this feedback, good or bad, to help figure out what to try next.

In addition, the mission should be remarkable such that it literally compels people to remark about it, and it must be launched in a venue conducive to such remarking.

The message at the core of thisĀ So Good They Can’t Ignore You book is simple – Working right trumps finding the right work.

Image credit: business mans by ilco via stock.xchng

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