A couple of days ago I gave an introduction to Cal Newports “Be so good they can´t ignore you“. The introduction was about Newports first rule “Don´t follow your passion” and the difference between the craftsman mindset and the passion mindset.
So, how can we be so good they can´t ignore us?
Cal Newport starts with pointing out what great jobs make so great. There are traits that define great work:
- Creativity: Newport gives an example of Ira Glass who is pushing the boundaries of radio and winning armfuls of awards.
- Impact: From the Apple 2 to the iPhone, Steve Jobs has changed the way we live our lives in the digital age.
- Control: No one tells Al Merrick when to wake up or what to wear. He is not expected in an office from nine to fice. Instead, his Channel Island Surfboards factory is located a block from the Santa Barbara beach, where Merrick still regularly spends time surfing.
How to get creativity, impact and control in our working lives
We need career capital because those traits are rare and valuable.
Supply and demand says that if you want these traits you need rare and valuable skills to offer in return. Think of these rare and valuable skills you can offer as your career capital and become a grandmaster in those skills. The craftsman mindest is a great strategy to acquire more career capital and gain skills.
Again Newport gives great and pratical examples which say the following: It´s not always good to elaborate plans for our careers. Instead, after each working experience, we should stick our heads up to see who is interested in our acquired career capital, and then jump at whatever opportunity seems most promising to us.
Newport compared himself to a famous guitar player named Jordan in this capital. He shows the difference between “playing” and “practicing”. This makes the difference – keep practicing to a point just past where you are comfortalbe. This makes you becoming better. Or as Jordan says:
“the harder I work, the more relaxed I can play, and the better it sounds”.
How to become a grand master
Some time ago Malcolm Gladwell presented the 10000-hour-rule. “You need to practice 10.000 hours to become a grand master“. But the question is not how long wepractice, it´s what type of work we do. Some practiced 10.000 hours and stayed in an intermediate level.
One problem is that people who went professional change their behavior and increase their performance only for a limited time until they reach an acceptable level. Beyond this point further improvements appear to be unpredictable. Work with no clear training philosophy let people be stuck. To successfully adopt the craftsman mindset, therefore, we have to approach our jobs with a dedication to deliberate practice. Have a never-ending thirst to get better. Besides this it is always important to find a way to get feedback. Choose projects or tasks you need to report to people to get feedback.
Next week a last part of my summary will follow with Rule #4: Think small, act big and a conclusion.
Still, this book is worth reading and a good recommendation.