Use Hard Work to Find Your Career Mission

This is the second post in a three part series reviewing the book So Good They Can’t Ignore You, by Cal Newport.


One of the benefits of adopting a craftsman mindset is that it leads to an opportunity to build a career mission. A career mission is a unifying vision and it allows one to seek out a direction with meaning that is worth pursuing. What’s the best way to do this? Newport suggests three steps: First, master a promising niche (a special area of demand for a product or service). Second, get to the cutting edge of your field. Third, go beyond the edge and explore the adjacent possible (the available next step in innovation).  The first three steps will lead you to the fourth and final step, which is to build small, prototype missions. The goal here is to systematically explore opportunities through a trial and error process. Notice how the four stage approach is much different than the passion mindset, where you find your one true passion and follow it.

Craftman mindset + Career Mission + Hard Work = Dream Job

A strong career mission, a craftsman mindset and hard work is what will lead someone to a dream career. Newport highlights some research on motivation and psychological needs, and how these create the building blocks of a dream job:

  • Autonomy: the feeling that you have control over your day, and that your actions are important.
  • Competence: the feeling that you are good at what you do.
  • Relatedness: the feeling of connection to other people.

Students and young workers need to become familiar with these, and work hard to earn them. What other psychological needs do you think need to be met for someone to have a dream career?

Next: The right mix – Where passion meets hard work

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