Blog 2018 08 22 Cal Newport: So Good They Can't Ignore You

Cal Newport: So Good They Can't Ignore You

Find your passion that you carry within yourself. Find it as soon as possible and you’ll be great! This is something we can read at almost every corner of the internet.

Cal Newport in his book So Good They Can’t Ignore You challenges this view, I think with success. According to Newport, (almost) nobody has that inherent, born-with passion. Instead, you have to work hard and you’ll start loving your work. Passion will form with experience.

Let’s look at it deeper. Newport defines 4 rules in his book.

Rule number one is that you shouldn’t follow your passion. If we have a look at the people on the top radiating passion all over the world, we should look closer and we’d find hard work from the beginning and passion coming only later on. In fact, he finds passion even dangerous - just like a Stoic. The “Follow Your Passion” rule makes people believe that there is an ultimate job out there for them which will be great from its beginning - they just have to find it. But nobody will find that perfect job, because there is nothing like that. People who fell trap to the “Follow Your Passion” rule, will have to cope with a lot of sadness and depression. Passion makes people believe that they can make a living based solely on their passion without deep knowledge and any audience, without people who are already there willing to pay for them. There is no pre-existing passion to be discovered.

His second rule is the name of the book too: “be so good they can’t ignore you”. This is extremely clear, isn’t it? Do your job and learn. Get better and better. Be so good that they cannot put you aside. Learn things that are difficult to learn and that relatively few people know. This way you will be more valuable than the most of the pack. In his own words, that’s how you gain “career capital”. Whenever you pick something to learn for your craft, you should think about how you will be able to capitalize on it. Ask yourself the question, if you learnt X what value you’d be offering to the world.

As you become better and better, it’s highly probable that you will be offered a promotion. In this third rule, Newport says that sometimes you’ll have to turn those promotions down. As a craftsman, you should seek more freedom in your career so that you can define what you learn, what you do, what projects you want to work on. But during your journey becoming better, your employers will likely try to control you more and you have to avoid that. After having followed the second rule, you acquired enough career capital in order to get in control of your time and career instead of letting others gaining more authority over you. But keep in mind one very important thing, do what people are willing to pay for, so you keep your financial viability. If you don’t find anything such, go back to rule #2.

In his last rule, Newport reflects on the importance of your mission and on how to create one from your projects. This is a complex task, it requires a lot of career capital, and in addition a lot of work. You have to be on the cutting edge and discover what is possible to do, where you can progress from there. But this is still not enough. If you really want to know how you can shine in your career without falling in the “passion” trap, I’d really recommend you to read So Good They Can’t Ignore You.

This post is licensed under CC BY 4.0 by the author.