Why it is More than Following Your Passion

According to author and Georgetown University professor Cal Newport, following your passion is bad advice. In his new book, So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love, he makes a good argument for why skills really do trump passion.

Newport says that

“…preexisting passions are rare and have little to do with how most people end up loving their work…. [The advice to follow your passion] can also be dangerous, leading to anxiety and chronic job hopping.”

After spending time with people who love their jobs – from organic farmers to freelance computer programmers – Newport details what they did to develop their careers – and what mistakes they made along the way.

“Matching your job to a preexisting passion does not matter…. Passion comes after you put in the hard work to become excellent at something valuable, not before. In other words, what you do for a living is much less important than how you do it.”

So, what do you need to do to develop a career you love?

  1. Master a difficult, valuable skill
  2. Build career capital – skills, relationships, and a body of work
  3. Develop a craftsman mindset – look inside and ask what you can offer the world
  4. Take small steps to expand your capabilities

Once you open up your options and better understand what you really like to do (and are good at doing!), you can create a career that you are passionate about.

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