Why You Should Forget About Passion (for a Minute)

This is the first post in a three part series reviewing the book So Good They Can’t Ignore You, by Cal Newport.
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Is “follow your passion” the right advice for a teenager preparing their career? In his book, So Good They Can’t Ignore You, Cal Newport argues that not only is it bad advice, but for most people, it’s counterproductive.

Newport argues that compelling careers have complex origins, and that these careers don’t usually start with reflections on what your passion is. Instead, passion should be something a person develops over time.

Leverage the Craftsman Mindset

Instead of having a passion mindset, young people should take a craftsman mindset. In the craftsman mindset, you have an output centric approach. To use Seth Godin’s interpretation: “Stop worrying about what you feel like doing (and what the world owes you) and start creating something meaningful and give it to the world.” The craftsman mindset is different in that the assumption is that no one owes you a great career, you have to earn it. And it won’t be easy.

Skills Trump Passion

To adopt the craftsman mindset and become so good they can’t ignore you, you need to build career capital. This involves strain, feedback and deliberate practice. In addition, you need to get good at something rare and valuable.

Students will ask themselves: “What should I work on or get good at?” I love working with clients to define that. It takes science and creativity, challenging questions and inspired research.  The opportunity is to identify a student’s strengths, interests and dreams and connect them with the challenges of the future and the 21st century careers that will solve them.

Next: Use Hard Work to find your Career Mission

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