So Good They Can't Ignore You
August 28, 2012
After so many people lost their jobs in the economic downturn, it seems as if there is another wave of people who've been bitten by the entrepreneurship/passion bug and are looking for a way out of their current job. Nothing against improving one's position, but authors like Cal Newport are critical of the 'grass is greener' perspective. The result, he thinks, is that skills get softened when one jumps from one passion to another, and no skills get developed to the point of expertise - a problem whether one is working for someone else, or themselves.
I argued that it's important to adopt the craftsman mindset, where you focus relentlessly on what value you're offering the world. This stands in stark contrast to the much more common passion mindset, which has you focus only on what value the world is offering you. Even with the craftsman mindset, however, becoming "so good they can't ignore you" is not trivial. To help these efforts I introduced the well-studied concept of deliberate practice, an approach to work where you deliberately stretch your abilities beyond where you're comfortable and then receive ruthless feedback on your performance. 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.