So good they can't ignore you.pdf
Book by Cal Newport...
Why Skills Triumph Passion in the Quest for Work You Love
SO GOOD THEY CAN’T IGNORE YOU
(Cal Newport/Business Plus/September 2013/304 pages/$26.00)
SO GOOD THEY CAN’T IGNORE YOU Why Skills Triumph Passion in the Quest for Work You Love
MAIN IDEA 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
About of Author CAL NEWPORT is currently an Assistant Professor of Computer Science at Georgetown University. He is the author of three books: How to Be a High School Superstar, How to Become a Straight-A Student and How to Win at College. He runs a blog called Study Hacks which decodes patterns of success for students and graduates. He is a graduate of MIT and Dartmouth College. The Web site for this book is at www.calnewport.com
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 self-proclaimed gurus have been written based on or around this hypothesis and some people openly despair whenthey can’t find work which is aligned with twhat they believe to be heir passions. “There is, however, a problem lurking here: When you look past the feel-good slogans and go deeper into the details of how passionate people like Steve Jobs really got started, or ask scientists about what actually predicts workplace happiness, the issue becomes much more complicated. You begin to find threads of nuance that, once pulled, unravel the tight certainty of the passion hypothesis, eventually leading to an unsettling recognition: “Follow your passion” might just be terrible advice.” – Cal Newport
For example, Steve Jobs never aspired to start a technology company or even to change the world. He and pal Steve Wozniak were trying to make some money selling circuit boards for home-built computers so Jobs could pay his tuition fees at the Los Altos Zen Center. When the local shop owner said he didn’t want to buy plain boards for $50 but would rather buy fifty fully assembled computers for $500 each, Jobs and Wozniak jumped at the chance and from that Apple Computer was born. “If a young Steve Jobs had taken his own advice and decided to only pursue work he loved, we would probably find him today as one of the Los Altos Zen Center’s most popular teachers. But he didn’t follow this simple advice. Apple Computer was decidedly not born out of passion, but instead was the result of a lucky break— a “small-time” scheme that unexpectedly took off.” – Cal Newport The fact Steve Jobs didn’t in fact follow his ownpassions shouldn’t come as any great shock because in reality, passion is very rare. Building a career in the real world is always a messy and confusing process, full of ambiguities, false starts and more. It’s normal for things to happen in stages or spurts rather than according to some grand plan. People stumble into fields of specialization by accident and then find they have a knack in that area. The reality is just about all compelling careers have complex origins and the one-size-fits-all philosophy of “follow your passions” just isn’t all that helpful. If you’re passionate about something nobody else values, it will be hard if not impossible to build a sustainable career in that field. Researchers who have examined how the passion hypothesis plays out in most people’s careers have reached several conclusions: ■ Genuine pre-existing career passions are very rare. In one study of Canadian college students, less that 4 percent of the students had passions which correlated to specific careers. That seems about right for the population at large. ■ A study in organizational behavior carried out at Yale University found those who were most passionate about their work tended to be those who had stuck around long enough to become good at what they do. It was shown passion frequently takes time to come to the surface rather than being a prerequisite of excellence. ■ A forty-year old study on the science of human motivation called “Self-Determination Theory” also reached the conclusion if you’re very good at what you do, the chances are you’ll feel passionate about it. If you’ve taken the time and invested the effort to become exceptionally good at something, that competence will likely lead to autonomy where you feel like yo control what you do each day and that your actions are important. When you stop and think about it, telling someone like a new career graduate to “Follow your passion and you’ll immediately find happiness” is dangerous. If they fail to find the certainty they’re craving, they will then engage in chronic job-hopping and crippling self-doubt. They will become paralyzed by the fact they’re unhappy in their jobs and won’t know what to do next. Also keep in mind job happiness is a by-product, not an end in and of itself. The more you focus on trying to force yourself to love what you do, the less you will end up actually loving it. Admittedly there are some people who love what they do for a living
and it is aligned with their passions – probably the approx. 5,000 professional athletes in America would fall into this category – but they are just a few exceptions where following their passion has paid off. For the vast majority of people, following your passion to find employment isn’t just impractical, it’s downright dangerous advice. Conventional wisdom is flawed in this part of life.
“My advice for aspiring performers? Nobody ever takes note of my advice, because it’s not the answer they wanted to hear. 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.’ If somebody’s thinking, ‘How can I be really good?’ people are going to come to you.” – Actor and comedian Steve Martin There are always two ways to look at your working life:
People with the passion approach to life spend their time worrying about what people think of them and whether they love their work. Those with the craftsman mindset, by contrast, focus obsessively on getting better at what they do to add value. They spend whatever time it takes doing the little things which enhance the value of whatever they are creating. “Irrespective of what type of work you do, the craftsman mindset is crucial for building a career you love. There’s something liberating about the craftsman mindset: It asks you to leave behind self-centered concerns about whether your job is “just right,” and instead put your head down and plug away at getting really damngood. No one owes you a great career, it argues; you need to earn it— and the process won’t be easy. You shouldn’t just envy the craftsman mindset, you should emulate it. In other words, I am suggesting that you put aside the question of whether your job is your true passion, and
instead turn your focus toward becoming so good they can’t ignore you. That is, regardless of what you do for a living, approach your work like a true performer.” – Cal Newport When you apply the craftsman mindset consistently over a long period of time, what you’re actually doing is increasing and deepening your reservoirs of “career capital.”
What exactly is career capital? Think of it this way: ■ In every field, there are some specific traits which characterize and define great work. World-class performers have mastered those traits. ■ Those traits are rare and therefore they are valuable. ■ To acquire those traits, you have to pay the price required in terms of learning, practice and then ultimately performance. You have to do whatever it takes to become a master craftsman in your field. “The craftsman mindset, with its relentless focus on what you produce, is exactly the mindset you would adopt if your goal was to acquire as much career capital as possible. Ultimately, this is why I promote the craftsman mindset over the passion mindset. This is not some philosophical debate on the existence of passion or the value of hard work— 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.” – Cal Newport The craftsman mindset is pretty much agnostic about what type of work you’re doing. Most any work you care to name can be used to build the level of career capital which form the basis of an exceptional career with three notable exceptions to the rule: 1. You can’t build career capital if your job presents few opportunities for you to distinguish yourself by developing rare and valuable skills. 2. You can’t apply the craftsman mindset to work which you believe is useless or actively bad for the world. 3. You can’t build career capital if your job forces you to work with people you strongly dislike. So howdo you go about building career capital? The key is something called deliberate practice which is based on this rule:
The 10,000-hour rule suggests great accomplishment is not so much about having natural talent but is instead focused on getting yourself into a position where you can accumulate such a massive amount of practice first. Some noteworthy examples of this rule: ■ Bill Gates happened to attend one of the first schools in the country which had installed a computer and which allowed students to have unsupervised access. ■ Mozart’s father was a fanatic about practicing. By the time Mozart went on tour as a child prodigy, he had squeezed in more than twice the number of practice hours as his contemporaries. ■ Chess player Bobby Fisher managed to fit in ten years of playing chess (the equivalent of 10,000 hours of practice) before achieving international recognition. One important qualifier with regards to the 10,000-hour rule is the fact the practice which is undertaken must be of a type which is termed “deliberate practice.” If you just spend 10,000 hours showing up, working hard but then making the same mistakes over and over, you will hit a performance plateau beyond which you will fail to get any better at what you’re trying to do. Building career capital is not about putting in the hours. You need a strategy for getting better and that’s what deliberate practice offers. So what is deliberate practice? It’s a simple training philosophy where you stretch under the guidance of expert coaches. It looks something like this:
As the name suggests, the whole ethos of deliberate practice is you’re undertaking a systematic program to improve how you perform in your area of specialization. You push the envelope by doing things which stretch your capabilities and force you to get better. You’re also tapping into the know-how of people (your coach or coaches) who
already know what it takes to excel. “When experts exhibit their superior performance in public their behavior looks so effortless and natural that we are tempted to attribute it to special talents. However, when scientists began measuring the experts’ supposedly superior powers… no general superiority was found.” – Anders Ericsson, researcher at Florida State University who coined the term “deliberate practice” in the early 1990s “As hundreds of follow-up studies have shown, deliberate practice provides the key to excellence in a diverse array of fields, among which are chess, medicine, auditing, computer programming, bridge, physics, sports, typing, juggling, dance, and music. If you want to understand the source of professional athletes’ talent, for example, look to their practice schedules— almost without exception they have been systematically stretching their athletic abilities, with the guidance of expert coaches, since they were children.” – Cal Newport To apply the concept of deliberate practice to a work setting where your main goal is to acquire career capital, there are five habits of a craftsman you should use:
Taking each of those steps in turn: 1. Decide what capital market you’re in – career capital markets come in two varieties: winner-take-all and auction. In a winner-take-all market, there is only one activity which is highly valued and that’s what you need to get good at. In an auction-style market, various types of career capital are valued and working to acquire exceptional skills in a variety of different fields will move you ahead. Mistaking a winner-take-all for an auction market is common and in order to focus on what people really care about, you need to have an accurate perspective first and foremost so you can set relevant goals for growth and improvement. 2. Identify the type of career capital which is valued in your field – which will be straightforward in a winner-take-all market. In auction markets, there’s usually more
flexibility and accordingly you should be on the lookout for what can be termed “open gates” – opportunities to build capital which are available because of your background experience. These open gates can be great because they offer opportunities to acquire lots of career capital quickly. 3. Define what “good” or “world-class” means in that field – because for deliberate practice to pay dividends you’ve got to have goals to shoot for. Sometimes there’s a little bit of ambiguity and that’s to be expected. Your definition of good performance and a great performance in your field will also change and evolve over time as well but clarify what it means to succeed and ultimately excel in your field first. 4. Start engaging in intense and purposeful development activities which are uncomfortable – because these force you to push past the performance plateaus everyone else stays at and instead become very good at what you’re doing. Undertake the difficult challenges which cause you to stretch. Do the hard development activities others avoid and push yourself. Look for ongoing feedback which is harsh and candid rather than politically correct. 5. Be patient – be prepared to put in months and years of mediocre performance before you become world-class at what you’re doing. Acquiring career capital always takes time and effort. Be patient and be willing to keep stretching your capabilities day after day until you get to the stage where you’re pretty darn good at what you do and people are starting to sit up and take notice. “Doing things we know how to do well is enjoyable, and that’s exactly the opposite of what deliberate practice demands…. Deliberate 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, editor, Fortune Magazine So what does deliberate practice look like in practice? Consider the example of Cal Newport who is trying to build career capital in the sciences. “According to popular legend, Richard Feynman, the Nobel Prize– winning theoretical physicist, scored only a slightly above-average IQ of 125 when he was tested in high school. In his memoirs, however, we find hints of how he rose from modest intelligence to genius, when he talks about his compulsion to tear down important papers and mathematical concepts until he could understand the concepts from the bottom up. It’s possible, in other words, that his amazing intellect was less about a gift from God and more about a dedication to deliberate practice. Motivated by my research and examples such as Feynman, I decided that focusing my attention on a bottom-up understanding of my own field’s most difficult results would be a good first step toward revitalizing my career capital stores. – Cal Newport His deliberate practice was structured in these ways: 1. Cal chose a paper which was well cited in his field and focused on understanding it from the bottom-up. He committed to working on it for one hour blocks of time regardless of whether or not he felt like he was making any progress. Eventually Cal was able to develop his own conceptual step-by-step proof map of how the problem described in the paper had been solved. It took around fifteen hours of focused study and analysis to get to that level of understanding. The immediate result was related
papers which had previously been mysterious suddenly became clearer and comprehensible. 2. On his computer, Cal keeps what he calls his “Research Bible.” This is an ongoing weekly summary of research papers read and analyzed, key points derived and how the results compare to previous work. The habit of noting progress made each week provides a framework around which deliberate practice is undertaken. 3. Beside his work computer, Cal keeps an “Hour Tally” – a sheet with a row for each month where he records the total number of hours spent each month in a state of deliberate practice. Having that staring him in the face motivates him to find new ways to fit more deliberate practice into his schedule. 4. Cal also purchased an expensive, archival-quality lab notebook for recording thoughts which come during brainstorming of new theory results. At the end of each brainstorming session, Cal makes notes and dates the pages so he can show the history of the development of any fresh breakthroughs. By investing in an expensive notebook rather than the cheapest one he could find, Cal signaled the importance of what he writes inside. While these ideas may or may not be applicable to your own field, the point is this is what deliberate practice looks like. It’s hard graft over an extended period of time. You undertake development activities which build your career capital stores and keep at it.
“Getting better and better at what I did became what mattered most, and getting better required the strain of deliberate practice. This is a different way of thinking about work, but once you embrace it, the changes to your career trajectory can be profound.” – Cal Newport Note that as previously mentioned, in many fields immediate expert feedback from a coach or someone with wide experience in your field is also an integral element of deliberate practice. You need the input of someone who will make you stretch in order to grow your supplies of career capital. That kind of feedback is invaluable. “Musicians, athletes, and chess players, among others, know all about deliberate practice, but knowledge workers do not. Most knowledge workers avoid the uncomfortable strain of deliberate practice like the plague, a reality emphasized by the typical cubicle dweller’s obsessive e-mail– checking habit— for what is this behavior if not an escape from work that’s more mentally demanding?” – Cal Newport Rule #3
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“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. Acquiring control, however, can be complicated. The more time you spend reading the research literature, the more it becomes clear: Giving people more control over what they do and how they do it increases their happiness, engagement, and sense of fulfillment. It’s no wonder, then, that when you flip through your mental Rolodex of dream jobs, control is often at the core of their appeal.” – Cal Newport Having control over what you do and who you do it with is important in creating work that you love. Researchers at Cornell University have carried out a study of more than 300 small businesses, half of which focused on giving employees more control and half of which did not. They found the control-centric businesses grew at four times the rate of their counterparts. In line with this approach, some companies now embrace a new approach which has been called creating a “Results-Only Work Environment” or ROWE for short. In a ROWE company, all that matters and gets measured is the result. Employees are free to show up to work whenever they like, leave when they choose and organize themselves in any way they see fit. Best Buy implemented ROWE principles at its headquarters and found turnover fell by 90 percent. Clothing company Gap implemented ROWE in a pilot program at its corporate headquarters as well and reported 80 percent of its employees felt more engaged and 90 percent felt ROWE enhanced their quality of life – impressive results. Capital So how can you get more control if you don’t work at a ROWE company? The simple answer is you cash in some of the career capital you’ve built up to get more control. There are, however, two potential traps in doing this successfully:
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Taking each of those traps in turn: Trap #1 Control that is acquired without career capital to back it up is not sustainable Control is seductive. Sometimes, people even drop out of college in order to attain complete control over their careers. Others leave promising jobs and strike out on their own in a quest for more control. The problem with doing that is if you’re not careful all you end up with is a great lifestyle but not enough income to fund doing interesting and engaging things. This is why building career capital before you try and gain more control is vital. If you become good at something which is rare and therefore valuable before you strike out on your own, you then have the capacity to create a revenue stream to fund what you in fact want to do. Without that income stream, all you end up with is a mere shadow of real autonomy. “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.” – Cal Newport “If you embrace control without capital, you’re likely to end up enjoying all the autonomy you can handle but unable to afford your next meal.” – Cal Newport Trap #2 Once you have enough career capital to get control, you become more valuable as is The ironic aspect of control is whenyou don’t have much career capital in place, nobody will care what you do in your working life because you can be easily replaced. However by the time you do build up enough career capital to do interesting things, chances are good you’ll have become so valuable to your current employer as you are they will be reluctant to give you the go-ahead to do something different. You’ll get locked in to what you currently do. “On reflection, this second trap makes sense. Acquiring more control in your working life is something that benefits you but likely has no direct benefit to your employer. Downshifting to a thirty-hour-per-week schedule, for example, might provide freedom from a working environment that had felt increasingly stifling. But from the point of view of your employer, it was simply lost productivity. In other words, in most jobs you should expect your employer to resist your move toward more control; they have every incentive to try to convince you to reinvest your career capital back into your career at their company, obtaining more money and prestige instead of more control, and this can be a hard argument to resist.” – Cal Newport To navigate your career so you avoid both these control traps, a good rule-of-thumb is you should only seek more control when you have evidence that you can create something people are willing to pay for. This can also be expressed as a law in this way:
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“Money is a neutral indicator of value. By aiming to make money, you’re aiming to be valuable. I have this principle about money that overrides my other life rules. Do what people are willing to pay for. 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.” – Derek Silvers, founder, CD Baby “When I began reflecting on this law, I saw that it applied again and again to examples of people successfully acquiring more control in their careers. To understand this, notice that the definition of “willing to pay” varies. In some cases, it literally means customers paying you money for a product or a service. But it can also mean getting approved for a loan, receiving an outside investment, or, more commonly, convincing an employer to either hire you or keep writing you paychecks. Once you adopt this flexible definition of “pay for it,” this law starts popping up all over.” – Cal Newport The practical application of Rule #3 is if you’re trying to move towards autonomy in a smart way, time your moves by the simple criteria of “Will someone be willing to hire me or pay me to do this?” If you have enough career capital in the bank, you may even find that your current employer is willing to make an exception to their standard policies in order to keep you. If you get into that situation, then you’re in a great position to secure more control over what you do each day. “This isn’t about making money. Instead, it’s about using money as a “neutral indicator of value”— a way of determining whether or not you have enough career capital to succeed with a pursuit. The law of financial viability is a critical tool for navigating your own acquisition of control. This holds whether you are pondering an entrepreneurial venture or a new role within an established company. Unless people are willing to pay you, it’s not an idea you’re ready to go after.” – Cal Newport “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. ” – Cal Newport
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“In the preceding rules, I have argued that “follow your passion” is bad advice, as most people aren’t born with pre-existing passions waiting to be discovered. If your goal is to love what you do, you must first build up “career capital” by mastering rare and valuable skills, and then cash in this capital for the traits that define great work. Mission is one of these desirable traits, and like any such desirable trait, it too requires that you first build career capital— a mission launched without this expertise is likely doomed to sputter and die. But capital alone is not enough to make a mission a reality. Plenty of people are good at what they do but haven’t reoriented their career in a compelling direction. Missions are a powerful trait to introduce into your working life, but they’re also fickle, requiring careful coaxing to make them a reality.” – Cal Newport Almost everyone wants to do work that is meaningful – where they have the opportunity to make a difference in the world. Steve Jobs referred to this as “making a dent in the universe.” Others refer to this ideal as having a mission. “To have a mission is to have a unifying focus for your career. It’s more general than a specific job and can span multiple positions. It provides an answer to the question, What should I do with my life? Missions are powerful because they focus your energy toward a useful goal, and this in turn maximizes your impact on your world— a crucial factor in loving what you do. People who feel like their careers truly matter are more satisfied with their working lives, and they’re also more resistant to the strain of hard work. Staying up late to save your corporate litigation client a few extra million dollars can be draining, but staying up late to help cure an ancient disease can leave you more energized than when you started.” – Cal Newport So how do you develop a personal mission? The best approach is probably that epitomized by scientists who are looking to make breakthroughs in their field. To achieve that, they first have to get to the cutting edge of their specialties before they can discover the adjacent possibilities which exist just beyond the edge of the current performance envelope. “A good career mission is similar to a scientific breakthrough— it’s an innovation waiting to be discovered in the adjacent possible of your field. If you want to identify a mission
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for your working life, therefore, you must first get to the cutting edge— the only place where these missions become visible.” – Cal Newport It’s only when you get to the cutting edge of your field that you can see the adjacent possible space where innovative ideas and vibrant missions are almost always found. Trying to discover a mission before you get to the cutting edge is an exercise in frustration because your won’t be able to come up with something strong enough to work. You have to master your niche first before you can figure out how to push the edge of the envelope outwards.
Visualize it this way. Imagine what’s known in your field is represented as an oval shape. The edge of that oval is the cutting edge of what’s known to be feasible or correct in your field of expertise. To have a compelling and vibrant mission, you’ve got to be focused on coming up with new ideas which lie in the white space just beyond the cutting edge of your field. If you succeed in coming up with new ideas, you push the edge further out. Anything less will be ineffective because it will always be trumped by someone who is doing something which is truly innovative. “Most people who love their work got where they are by first building up career capital and then cashing it in for the types of traits that define great work. Getting to the cutting edge of a field can be understood in these terms: This process builds up rare and valuable skills and therefore builds up your store of career capital. Similarly, identifying a compelling mission once you get to the cutting edge can be seen as investing your career capital to acquire a desirable trait in your career. In other words, mission is yet another example of career capital theory in action. If you want a mission, you need to first acquire capital. If you skip this step, you might end up with lots of enthusiasm but very little to show for it.” – Cal Newport To get to the cutting edge of your field, you first have to “think small” – you have to focus on a narrow number of subjects for a very long time until you become so good at them you have career capital based on your competencies and skills. Once you are at the cutting edge, however, you have to “act big” – you must go after something noteworthy which exists in the adjacent possible white space you can see. If you don’t get this order right, it’s highly unlikely you will ever be able to come up with a compelling mission. “I think you do need passion to be happy. It’s just that we don’t know what that passion is. If you ask someone, they’ll tell you what they think they’re passionate about, but they probably have it wrong.” – Pardis Sabeti, professor of evolutionary biology, Harvard University Establishing a great mission for your life and career isn’t usually achieved in one step.
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Nor is this the work of an instant. In fact, by the time you’ve managed to build up a sizable reserve of career capital in your life, there will likely be dozens of potential missions you can identify. To actually embed a mission into your life and career, you’ve still got to figure out how to put your mission into practice. Or, in other words, you’ve still got to figure out how to make the leap from theory to practice. One strategy for bridging the gap between idea and practice when it comes to having a mission-driven career is to make a lot of “little bets” – small low-cost and low-risk experiments in what seems like promising directions. You try lots of different ideas and then keep what works while discarding what does not.
By definition, none of these little bets will be of bet-the-farm magnitude. Instead, they’re bite-sized baby steps in fresh directions which usually take a month or two to try. If a project succeeds, you take next steps in that direction. If it doesn’t, you’ve got worthwhile feedback you need to head in another direction without having chewed through too many of your resources. “To maximize your chances of success, you should deploy small, concrete experiments that return concrete feedback. These bets allow you to tentatively explore the specific avenues surrounding your general mission, looking for those with the highest likelihood of leading to outstanding results. If career capital makes it possible to identify a compelling mission, then it’s a strategy of little bets that gives you a good shot of succeeding in this mission. To deploy this career tactic, you need both pieces.” – Cal Newport As you build up a portfolio of little bets, you have to then start thinking like a marketer. For your mission to be powerful enough to be able to sustain your career, you’ve got to be generating remarkable stuff that will stand out from what everyone else is doing. You won’t be able to base your mission on matching what someone else is already doing. “You’re either remarkable or invisible. The world is full of boring stuff— brown cows— which is why so few people pay attention…. A purple cow… now that would stand out. Remarkable marketing is the art of building things worth noticing.” – Seth Godin, author This imperative to be so remarkable that a viral word-of-mouth marketing effort naturally springs up around your work can be stated this way:
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It’s hard to make having a mission become a reality in your working life. This is actually one of those areas where the more you try and force it, the less likely you are to succeed. Instead, you need to have the patience to build healthy reserves of career capital and then the ability to be ceaselessly scanning your view of the adjacent possibilities which exist in your field. You have to keep looking for the next big idea again and again until this becomes a natural part of your mindset. You also need to engage in lots of brainstorming and being exposed to new ideas to pull this off. Think of staying remarkable as being the result of a three-level pyramid like this:
■ At the top level which is termed “Mission”, you have a personal manifesto for the type of work you want to pursue. ■ The bottom level of the pyramid, “Research,” is where you become exposed to all that is already known in your field. You read papers, attend seminars and talk with experts in your field to make sure you’re aware of the current state-of-the-art thinking in your field. ■ Based on all your background research, you then undertake small “Projects” – the middle level of the pyramid – which are little bets where you explore promising ideas and developments. You set deadlines for these projects and then build on what works out and discard what does not. “Control over what you do and how you do it is such a powerful force for building remarkable careers that it could rightly be called a “dream-job elixir.” When you study the type of careers that make others remark, “That’s the type of job I want,” this trait almost always plays a central role. Once you understand this value of control, it changes the way you evaluate opportunities, leading you to consider a position’s potential autonomy as being as important as its offered salary or the institution’s reputation.” – Cal Newport
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“To accomplish the goal of loving what you do for a living, let the rules I uncovered guide you. Don’t obsess over discovering your true calling. Instead, master rare and valuable skills. Once you build up the career capital that these skills generate, invest it wisely. Use it to acquire control over what you do and how you do it, and to identify and act on a life-changing mission. This philosophy is less sexy than the fantasy of dropping everything to go live among the monks in the mountains, but it’s also a philosophy that has been shown time and again to actually work.” – Cal Newport
* * * [세계 베스트셀러(NBS) 서비스는 영문의 경제·경영 및 정치 서적의 베스트셀러, 스테디셀러의 핵심 내용을 간략하게 정리한 요약(Summary) 서비스입니다. 영문 서비스는 단순히 서적을 소개하거나 광고를 위한 Book Review가 아니라 세계의 베스 트셀러 도서의 핵심을 체계적으로 정리한 도서 정보로써, 이 서비스를 통해 세계의 정치·경제·문화의 흐름을 빠르게 파악할 수 있습니다. 세계 지도층이 읽는 세계 베스트셀러 도서를 가장 빠르고 효율적으로 접해보시기 바랍니다.]
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