When it comes to creating work you love, following your passion is not particularly useful advice
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
investing the career capital
acquisition of useful skills
from finding the right work and toward working right
Their plans were circumspect and small-time. They weren’t dreaming of taking over the world
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.
the more you seek examples of the passion hypothesis, the more you recognize its rarity.
Things happen in stages.”
it takes time to get good at anything
The key thing is to force yourself through the work, force the skills to come; that’s the hardest phase,” he says
feel like your problem is that you’re trying to judge all things in the abstract before you do them. That’s your tragic mistake
I just wanted options
stumbling into passion over time
I set goals for myself at being the best I could be at what[ever] I did
You’ll never be sure. You don’t want to be sure
Compelling careers often have complex origins that reject the simple idea that all you have to do is follow your passion
There are many complex reasons for workplace satisfaction, but the reductive notion of matching your job to a pre-existing passion is not among them
less than 4 percent of the total identified passions had any relation to work or education
At the core of the passion hypothesis is the assumption that we all have pre-existing passions waiting to be discovered
Passion Takes Time
In Wrzesniewski’s research, the happiest, most passionate employees are not those who followed their passion into a position, but instead those who have been around long enough to become good at what they do
working right trumps finding the right work
The more we focused on loving what we do, the less we ended up loving it.
craftsman mindset, a focus on what value you’re producing in your job
the craftsman mindset is the foundation for creating work you love
If somebody’s thinking, ‘How can I be really good?’ people are going to come to you.”
Eventually] you are so experienced [that] there’s a confidence that comes out
Stop focusing on these little details,” it told me. “Focus instead on becoming better.”
I track the hours spent each month dedicated to thinking hard about research problems
This hour-tracking strategy helped turn my attention back above all else to the quality of what I produce
it will add something important to the tune he’s writing. This dedication to output
creating something meaningful and then presenting it to the world
The tape doesn’t lie.’ Immediately after the recording comes the playback; your ability has no hiding place
output-centric approach to work the craftsman mindset
Irrespective of what type of work you do, the craftsman mindset is crucial for building a career you love.
Whereas the craftsman mindset focuses on what you can offer the world, the passion mindset focuses instead on what the world can offer you
when you focus only on what your work offers you, it makes you hyperaware of what you don’t like about
the annoying tasks you’re assigned or the frustrations of corporate bureaucracy can become too much to handle
the deep questions driving the passion mindset—“Who am I?” and “What do I truly love?”—are essentially impossible to confirm
the passion mindset is almost guaranteed to keep you perpetually unhappy and confused
there’s something liberating about the craftsman mindset: It asks you to leave behind self-centered concerns about whether your job is “just right
No one owes you a great career, it argues; you need to earn it—and the process won’t be easy
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
approach your work like a true performer
what you produce is basically all that matters
If you spend too much time focusing on whether or not you’ve found your true calling, the question will be rendered moot when you find yourself out of work
regardless of how you feel about your job right now, adopting the craftsman mindset will be the foundation on which you’ll build a compelling career
If you want to love what you do, abandon the passion mindset
TRAITS THAT DEFINE GREAT WORK
How do you get these traits in your own working life
if you want something that’s both rare and valuable, you need something rare and valuable to offer in return
Jobs had the insight to take on investment and to focus this technical energy toward producing a complete product
after he had proven himself as one of public radio’s best editors and hosts
turned his focus on making his skills more rare and more valuable
The key thing is to force yourself through the work, force the skills to come; that’s the hardest phase
Once he had surf pros like Kelly Slater riding his boards—and winning—he became free to dictate the terms of his working life
The craftsman mindset, with its relentless focus on what you produce
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
The downside of the passion mindset is that it strips away merit
great work doesn’t just require great courage, but also skills of great (and real) value
Instead of fleeing the constraints of his current job, he began acquiring the career capital he’d need to buy himself out of them
As his ability grew, so did his options
allowed him to run his own subsidiary within the larger organization
Duffy started his own company with enough career capital to immediately thrive—he was one of the world’s best logo men and had a waiting list of clients
Part of what makes the craftsman mindset thrilling is its agnosticism toward the type of work you do
three traits that disqualify a job as providing a good foundation for building work you love
few opportunities to distinguish
focuses on something you think is useless or perhaps even actively bad
forces you to work with people you really dislike
The big-picture point worth noting here, however, is that these disqualifying traits still have nothing to do with whether a job is the right fit for some innate passion
Working right, therefore, still trumps finding the right work
he threw himself into the center of the action, where he could find out how things actually work
I thought I needed more samples to get work
What this story lacks in pizazz, it makes up in repeatability: There’s nothing mysterious about how Alex Berger broke into Hollywood—he simply understood the value, and difficulty, of becoming good.
started gathering capital before he knew what he wanted to do with it
he carefully and persistently gathered career capital
discomfort with mental discomfort was a liability in the performance world.
constantly stretch himself beyond what was comfortable, but it was also accompanied by instant feedback
in serious study, feedback is immediate
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
It is a lifetime accumulation of deliberate practice that again and again ends up explaining excellence
if you just show up and work hard, you’ll soon hit a performance plateau beyond which you fail to get any better
Let’s assume you’re a knowledge worker, which is a field without a clear training philosophy. If you can figure out how to integrate deliberate practice into your own life, you have the possibility of blowing past your peers in your value, as you’ll likely be alone in your dedication to systematically getting better. That is, deliberate practice might provide the key to quickly becoming so good they can’t ignore you.
You need to be constantly soliciting feedback from colleagues and professionals
obsessively sought feedback, on everything
He stretched his abilities by taking on projects
not just one at a time, but often up to three or four writing commissions concurrently, all the while holding down a day job
His new tool of choice is a spreadsheet, which he uses to track how he spends every hour of every day
The important stuff still finds its way to him, but on his schedule.
Mike’s goal with his spreadsheet is to become more “intentional” about how his workday unfolds. “The easiest thing to do is to show up to work in the morning and just respond to e-mail the whole day
I want to spend time on what’s important, instead of what’s immediate
At the end of every week he prints his numbers to see how well he achieved this goal
Decide What Capital Market You’re In
two types of these markets: winner-take-all and auction
Mistaking a winner-take-all for an auction market is common
I see it often in an area relevant to my own life: blogging
He viewed the world through statistics and hoped that with the right combination of capital he could get them where he needed them to be to make money
The only capital that matters is whether or not your posts compel the reader
baseline goal: They inspire their readers
stop calculating your bounce rate and start focusing instead on saying something people really care about—which is where your energy should be if you want to succeed.
he set out to gain any capital relevant to this broad topic.
seek open gates—opportunities to build capital that are already open to you
Once you’ve identified your market, you must then identify the specific type of capital to pursue
The advantage of open gates is that they get you farther faster, in terms of career capital acquisition, than starting from scratch
it’s hard to start from scratch in a new field
you need clear goals
good” meant having a script good enough to land him an agent
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.
If you show up and do what you’re told, you will, as Anders Ericsson explained earlier in this chapter, reach an “acceptable level” of ability before plateauing
this stretching, as any mathematician will also admit, is the precondition to getting better
If you’re not uncomfortable, then you’re probably stuck at an “acceptable level.”
other part is embracing honest feedback
even if it destroys what you thought was good
It’s so tempting to just assume what you’ve done is good enough and check it off your to-do list
if I stay with it, then one day I will have been playing for forty years, and anyone who sticks with something for forty years will be pretty good at it.”
willing to look forty years into the future for the payoff
Martin redefines the word so that it’s less about paying attention to your main pursuit, and more about your willingness to ignore other pursuits that pop up along the way to distract you.
Without this patient willingness to reject shiny new pursuits, you’ll derail your efforts before you acquire the capital you need
before finally looking up and realizing, “Hey, I’ve become pretty good, and people are starting to notice
Musicians, athletes, and chess players know all about deliberate practice. Knowledge workers, however, do not. This is great news for knowledge workers: If you can introduce this strategy into your working life you can vault past your peers in your acquisition of career capital
control over what you do, and how you do it, is one of the most powerful traits you can acquire when creating work you love
building what I called “career capital”—and then cashing in this capital for the traits that make great work great
he stumbled into his profession, and then found that his passion for the work increased along with his expertise.
You have to get good before you can expect good work.
Ryan and Sarah invested their (extensive) career capital into gaining control over what they do and how they do it
Ryan and Sarah live a meaningful life on their own terms
The control-centric businesses grew at four times the rate of their counterparts
They leave it to the employee to figure out whatever works best for getting the important things done. “No results, no job: It’s that simple,” as ROWE supporters like to say.
Giving people more control over what they do and how they do it increases their happiness, engagement, and sense of fulfillment
it’s dangerous to pursue more control in your working life before you have career capital to offer in exchange.
Control that’s acquired without career capital is not sustainable
You must first generate this capital by becoming good at something rare and valuable
if you spend time browsing the blogs of lesser-known lifestyle designers, you’ll begin to notice the same red flags again and again: A distressingly large fraction of these contrarians, like Jane, skipped over the part where they build a stable means to support their unconventional lifestyle
his only product was his enthusiasm about not having a “normal” life
not much real value
enthusiasm alone is not rare and valuable and is therefore not worth much in terms of career capital
enjoying all the autonomy you can handle but unable to afford your next meal
even after you have the capital required to acquire real control, things remain difficult
as it’s exactly at this point that people begin to recognize your value and start pushing back to keep you entrenched in a less autonomous path.
once you have enough career capital to acquire more control in your working life, you have become valuable enough to your employer that they will fight your efforts to gain more autonomy.
Throughout her career, Lulu repeatedly fought to gain more freedom in her working life, sometimes to the shock or dismay of her employers or friends
she was careful to ensure she always had enough career capital to back her up before she made a bid for more control
Finding yourself stuck in a boring job is exactly the point where breaking away to pave your own non-conformist path becomes tempting.
Lulu had built up a legitimate store of career capital, so she decided to see what it could buy her
part-time degree in philosophy
thirty was the minimum for which you could still receive full benefits
tackling something brand-new, where there wasn’t a detailed plan in place already, seemed interesting—a pursuit where she would have a lot of say over what she did and how she did it.
At this point her skills were so valuable that finding clients was no problem
Though Lulu’s career was satisfyingly self-directed, the path to acquiring this freedom generated conflict
couldn’t say no (she was saving them too much money), but they didn’t like it
The more I met people who successfully deployed control in their career, the more I heard similar tales of resistance from their employers, friends, and families
As he came up with ideas around medical education, an interest of his, he could then hand them over to the team at the company to be turned into reality.
The point at which you have acquired enough career capital to get meaningful control over your working life is exactly the point when you’ve become valuable enough to your current employer that they will try to prevent you from making the change
benefits you but likely has no direct benefit to your employer
you should expect your employer to resist your move toward more control
from the point of view of her employer, it was simply lost productivity
The key, it seems, is to know when the time is right to become courageous in your career decisions
you should only pursue a bid for more control if you have evidence that it’s something that people are willing to pay you for.
the first follower transforms the lone nut into a leader
I follow a rule with my life that if something is scary, do it
I have this principle about money that overrides my other life rules,” he said. “Do what people are willing to pay for
Money is a neutral indicator of value. By aiming to make money, you’re aiming to be valuable
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.
The Law of Financial Viability When deciding whether to follow an appealing pursuit that will introduce more control into your work life, seek evidence of whether people are willing to pay for it. If you find this evidence, continue. If not, move on
What makes Ryan different is that he made sure people were willing to pay him to farm before he tried it
validated by the fact that her employers accepted them
Unless people are willing to pay you, it’s not an idea you’re ready to go after.
her happiness comes from the fact that she built her career on a clear and compelling mission
something that not only gives meaning to her work but provides the energy needed to embrace life beyond the lab
her mission provides her a sense of purpose and energy
To have a mission is to have a unifying focus for your career
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
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
How do you make mission a reality in your working life
a mission launched without this expertise is likely doomed to sputter and die.
systematically experimenting with different proto-missions
deploying a marketing mindset in the search for your focus
Hardness scares off the daydreamers and the timid
a mission chosen before you have relevant career capital is not likely to be sustainable.
Missions are tricky
just because you really want to organize your work around a mission doesn’t mean that you can easily make it happen
Big ideas, Johnson explained, are almost always discovered in the “adjacent possible
in reality, innovation is more systematic. We grind away to expand the cutting edge, opening up new problems in the adjacent possible to tackle and therefore expand the cutting edge some more, opening up more new problems, and so on
technological (and scientific) advances rarely break out of the adjacent possible
If you want to identify a mission for your working life, therefore, you must first get to the cutting edge—the only place where these missions become visible.
first mastering a promising niche—a task that may take years—and only then turning her attention to seeking a mission
If life-transforming missions could be found with just a little navel-gazing and an optimistic attitude, changing the world would be commonplace
these breakthroughs require that you first get to the cutting edge, and this is hard—the type of hardness that most of us try to avoid in our working lives.
mission is yet another example of career capital theory in action
It’s just that we don’t know what that passion is
finally ready to commit to a single focus in her working life.
These are not the actions of someone who is certain of her destiny from day one
Pardis had finally developed her computational genetics ideas to the point where their usefulness and novelty were obvious.
Once you get to the cutting edge, however, and discover a mission in the adjacent possible, you must go after it with zeal: a “big” action
Pardis Sabeti thought small by focusing patiently for years on a narrow niche
The art of mission, we can conclude, asks us to suppress the most grandiose of our work instincts and instead adopt the patience—the style of patience observed with Pardis Sabeti—required to get this ordering correct.
using small and achievable projects
Once you have the capital required to identify a mission, you must still figure out how to put the mission into practice
not afraid to try something bold if it holds out the promise of making his life more interesting
Kirk’s path to American Treasures was incremental
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
This rapid and frequent feedback
important thing about little bets is that they’re bite-sized. You try one. It takes a few months at most.
It was this last bet—out of a long string of such bets—that proved to be a big winner, at which point she dedicated her career to its pursuit
Just because you have a good idea for a mission, however, doesn’t mean that you’ll succeed in its pursuit
To maximize your chances of success, you should deploy small, concrete experiments that return concrete feedback
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
I had an audience who wanted to know what I thought about a whole ton of different things,” he told me. “In many cases they were happy to pay money just to ask me questions.
It seemed like an interesting thing to do.
Giles committed himself to the mission of bringing together the worlds of art and Ruby programming
He approached the task of finding good projects for his mission with the mindset of a marketer, systematically studying books on the subject to help identify why some ideas catch on while others fall flat
they weren’t good
Giles was in the right place with the right skills at the right time
He needed a mission to actively guide his career or he would end up trapped again and again
he didn’t know how to make this general idea into a money-making reality, so he went searching for answers
For his mission to build a sustainable career, it had to produce purple cows, the type of remarkable projects that compel people to spread the word
focus your attention on making quality contributions to open-source projects. This is where the people who matter look for talent
It was, in other words, a strategy that made his mission into a success.
You have to see this
a good mission-driven project must be remarkable in two different ways
What’s nice about this first notion of remarkability is that it can be applied to any field
but he also spread the word about the project in a venue that supports these remarks
There’s also, however, a second type of remarkability at play
For a mission-driven project to succeed, it should be remarkable in two different ways. First, it must compel people who encounter it to remark about it to others. Second, it must be launched in a venue that supports such remarking
marketing-centric approach to mission
Pardis, by contrast, pursued this mission by launching an arresting project
the best ideas for missions are found in the adjacent possible—the region just beyond the current cutting edge.
you can’t skip straight into a great mission without first building mastery in your field
Note: Heerlijke zinsnede
I now had a job, but I needed to figure out how to transform it into one I loved
It’s more important to become good at something rare and valuable, and then invest the career capital this generates into the type of traits that make a job great
Driven by this insight, while my classmates contemplated their true calling, I went seeking opportunities to master rare skills that would yield big rewards. I started by hacking my study skills to become as efficient as possible
Princeton Web Solutions wasn’t a meteoric success, but this was partly by design, as we didn’t really want to invest the time required to grow a serious company
The traits that can make your life interesting, I learned, had very little to do with intensive soul-searching
For them, something as basic as choosing a major became weighted with cosmic significance. I thought this was nonsense
If you think it would be cool, go do it.” This seemed as good a reason as any for me to proceed
Both paths, I was sure, would yield numerous opportunities that could be leveraged into a remarkable life.
If you want them in your career, you need rare and valuable skills to offer in return
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
I feared that my rate of acquiring career capital was tapering off
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
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
I am going to work on this for one hour,” I would tell myself. “I don’t care if I faint from the effort, or make no progress, for the next hour this is my whole world
It took, on average, ten minutes for the waves of resistance to die down.
building a proof map that captured the dependencies between the different pieces of the proof
self-administered quizzes that forced me to memorize the key definitions the proof used
writing a detailed summary in my own words
More important than these small successes, however, was the new mindset this test case introduced
Strain, I now accepted, was good
Instead of seeing this discomfort as a sensation to avoid, I began to understand it the same way that a body builder understands muscle burn
Once a week I require myself to summarize in my “bible” a paper I think might be relevant to my research
description of the result, how it compares to previous work, and the main strategies used to obtain it
they still induce the strain of deliberate practice
By having these hour counts stare me in the face every day I’m motivated to find new ways to fit more deliberate practice into my schedule
When you adopt a productivity mindset, however, deliberate practice-inducing tasks are often sidestepped, as the ambiguous path toward their completion, when combined with the discomfort of the mental strain they require, makes them an unpopular choice in scheduling decisions
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
In a growing program, you’ll always have a say,” she told me.
I don’t use e-mail
The more you try to force it, I learned, the less likely you are to succeed. True missions, it turns out, require two things. First you need career capital, which requires patience. Second, you need to be ceaselessly scanning your always-changing view of the adjacent possible in your field, looking for the next big idea. This requires a dedication to brainstorming and exposure to new ideas. Combined, these two commitments describe a lifestyle, not a series of steps that automatically spit out a mission when completed
Every week, I expose myself to something new about my field
ensure that I really understand the new idea, I require myself to add a summary, in my own words, to my growing “research bible
one walk each day for free-form thinking about the ideas turned up by this background research
access to new ideas and to the “liquid networks” that facilitate their mixing and matching often provides the catalyst for breakthrough new ideas
an effective strategy for making the leap from a tentative mission idea to compelling accomplishments is to use small projects that I called “little bets
It’s a project small enough to be completed in less than a month. It forces you to create new value (e.g., master a new skill and produce new results that didn’t exist before). It produces a concrete result that you can use to gather concrete feedback
only two or three bets active at a time so that they can receive intense attention
I also track my hours spent on these bets in the hour tally
without these accountability tools, I tended to procrastinate on this work, turning my attention to more urgent but less important matters
Ultimately, the success or failure of the projects pursued in this middle level helps me evolve the research mission maintained by the top level
the system as a whole is a closed feedback loop—constantly evolving toward a clearer and better supported vision for my work.
He was able instead to focus on the tasks he was given and on accomplishing them well. He was free from the constant, draining comparisons he used to make between his current work and some magical future occupation waiting to be discovered.
His experience at the monastery had freed him from the escapist thoughts of fantasy jobs that had once dominated his mind
Thomas acquired these traits not by matching his work to his passion, but instead by doing his work well and then strategically cashing in the capital it generated.
He didn’t need to have a perfect job to find occupational happiness—he needed instead a better approach to the work already available to him.
A fulfilling working life is a more subtle experience than his old fantasies had allowed
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.
The more rare and valuable skills you have to offer, the more interesting opportunities will become available
Derek has had enough successes in his career that he can now live where he wants and work on projects he finds interesting when he decides he’s in the mood to work.
When it started to make a lot of money, only then did he decide to make it into his full-time job.