So Good They Can’t Ignore You - Cal Newport

So Good They Can’t Ignore You - Cal Newport

Find out why "follow your dreams" is bad advice and learn to get satisfaction in your career!

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In this summary of the book "So Good They Can't Ignore You", Cal Newport offers practical solutions to achieve and maintain satisfaction with your work.

You have probably heard the phrase: "Work with what you love and you will never have to work in life again."

However, how do you find a job that you are good at and enjoy doing?

Follow us in this summary and understand more!

About the book "So Good They Can't Ignore You"

Why do some people love what they do and others do not? That was the question that motivated Cal Newport to write the book "So Good They Can't Ignore You", published in 2012. Through interviews and outsourced research, he analyzed the variables, the facts and the myths about job satisfaction.

Throughout its 256 easy-to-read pages, the author shows examples and offers tips for finding your ideal job.

About the author Cal Newport

Cal Newport has a Ph. D. in Computer Science from MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology). He teaches at Georgetown University. He has six published books and is a blog writer. Study Hacks: Decoding Success Patterns.

To whom is this book indicated?

The content of the book can be useful to anyone who wants to know directions on how to get satisfaction and career success.

Main ideas of the book "So Good They Can't Ignore You"

The author reveals, throughout the book, the 4 rules that he discovered during his research. They are:

  • Do not follow your passion;
  • Be so good that they can not ignore you (the importance of the skills);
  • Reject a promotion (the importance of control);
  • Find and accomplish your mission.

In this review, we will explain better the key points of each one of them. Come with me!

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[Book Summary] So Good They Can't Ignore You - Cal Newport

Overview: Rule 1 - Do not Follow Your Passion

It's a strong phrase, isn't it? We are so used to hearing this advice about pursuing our passion that when someone says otherwise, we get scared. But Cal Newport explains the reasons for demystifying this thought.

According to him, this search for passion as well as not working can be dangerous: people who try to follow this advice end up changing jobs regularly, frustrating themselves with the shortcomings of their search.

Thinking about it, the author came to 3 conclusions about the restrictive notion of combining his work with a pre-existing passion:

  • Passionate careers are very rare;
  • Developing a passion requires time and effort;
  • Passion is a side effect of mastery of a skill.

Of course, some people follow their passion and achieve success in their professional lives, principally sportsmen. However, such cases are exceptions.

Basically, the author's message in this part of the book is that passion alone does not serve as a motivation for you to do a good job, but rather a combination of competence, autonomy, and involvement.

So in the next 3 rules, Cal explains how to really motivate yourself with your work. Shall we go to them?

Overview: Rule 2 - Be So Good That They Can not Ignore You

This is the rule that gives the book its name. Therefore, the author uses almost 100 pages to develop his ideas about this practice.

Cal Newport explains that for a job to be enjoyable and meaningful, it must involve 3 ingredients: creativity, impact, and control.

This type of work is rare and valuable, and therefore to realize it you must develop also rare and valuable skills that make up what the author calls "career capital".

For the construction of this capital, the author suggests adopting what he calls the "artisan mentality", which means that you should give more value to what you produce in your work than to the value your job offers you.

In other words, you should focus on the impact that your work generates as this will be the foundation to create a more attractive job.

However, this is not easy to do. Hence, Newport suggests indicators that your current job is not ideal for developing the artisan mentality:

  • Work does not offer you opportunities to build differentiated skills;
  • The focus of the work is on something that you do not believe is relevant;
  • You do not like your work environment and your colleagues.

Finally, to become so good at something so that other people can't ignore you, the author points to the use of "deliberate practice", an approach that suggests that you work your skills out of your comfort zone, always seeking performance.

The steps to practice this approach are:

  • Divide the whole process into segments;
  • Identify your weaknesses;
  • Test new strategies for each part;
  • Integrate your learning;
  • Repeat the process.

Overview: Rule 3 - Reject a Promotion

Once again, Cal Newport draws attention by challenging common sense. In this part of the book "So Good They Can't Ignore You", he talks about the importance of control.

When you realize that you have autonomy and control over your work, your satisfaction and fulfillment increase. So having control is important to love what you do.

However, the author highlights two traps that may arise during his quest for control. They are:

  1. You try to have total control before you combine all the necessary career capital for it. (Example: quitting your current job before getting all the skills needed for a new venture);
  2. Although you have the intellectual capital you need to exercise control, you continue to fail in doing so. (Example: keep accepting promotions that tie you more and more into your current job).

Another highlight in this part of the book is when the author discusses the "financial viability law," which he sees as crucial throughout his acquisition of control.

In short, this principle states that you should only seek to increase control over something that you know people will pay you, i. e. if there is going to be a financial reward.

This idea is worth as much to seek a new position within your current company as to venture into a new area.

Overview: Rule 4 - Find and carry out your mission

In the last rule developed by the author, he describes the importance of having a well-defined mission to seek satisfaction in your job, because it is what will give meaning to what you do.

But finding and understanding your mission is not an easy task: it is the result of accumulated experiences, knowledge and attitudes experienced in your personal and professional life.

Therefore, it is important that you establish a domain in your area (acquired through the use of your career capital) before determining your mission.

In addition, the author recommends that you make your search through small steps and always relying on concrete experiments, so gradually you are shaping your ideal.

What do other authors say about it?

Caio Carneiro, author of the book "Seja Foda" advises: do not be a well-paid failure, success is not measured by money. For you who want to be awesome, you need to have true values that make you focused on success.

In the book "Now, Discover Your Strengths", authors Marcus Buckingham and Donald Clifton clarify that in schools and workplaces, we are encouraged to find and correct our weaknesses, always aiming to increase our productivity.

Finally, in "Awaken The Giant Within" Tony Robbins explains that keeping your commitment to your decisions can be challenging, but the more you try, the easier it gets. So, when you fail to try to evoke a change in your life, don't be discouraged.

Okay, but how can I apply this to my life?

In short, to meet the principles presented in the book, you should follow these steps:

  • Build career capital by specializing in rare and valuable skills;
  • Apply this capital to progressively take control and perfect your mission;
  • Thus, you will achieve the ideal combination of autonomy, mastery, and purpose that makes work meaningful and enjoyable.

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