The North American obsession with following one’s passion and doing what one loves has fueled an ever greater dissatisfaction with one’s life and career. Accoding to Cal Newport in So Good: They Can’t Ignore You, that’s because the “passion mindset” makes for impractical and unrealistic career advice.
- passion ≠ career: Most passions do not translate into feasible careers (e.g. being passionate about hockey, going travelling or spending quality time with the kids);
- passions are not quick fixes: most serious passions develop only after we’ve been doing something for an extended time period. Usually, the better we get at doing something over time, the more our interest and passion for that thing grows.
- what makes work meaningful isn’t necessarily what we do but how we experience our work life: the most valuable and meaningful aspects of a particular job or career have to do with things like having autonomy, exercising competence and having good relationships with one’s co-workers.
Rejecting the passion mindset, Newport advocates the “crafstman” mindset:
- work hard in what you are doing right now;
- acquire valuable skills through hard work;
- build up those skills (‘career capital’ as he calls it);
- invest that career capital in work that allows you to exercise competence, autonomy and have good relationships with those around you.
The craftsman’s ethic includes:
- focusing on getting better at what one does;
- working right instead of looking for the right work;
- mastering something until one does it effortlessly;
- producing something of value to others
Instead of expecting good work to come to him, the crafstman gets good at what he does. In doing so, he builds a good career for himself which gives him a sense of peace and security in the knowledge that he is good at something.
Elsewhere, the craftsman mindset fosters the following:
- a thirst to know and learn;
- an intensity and focus;
- the pursuit of mastery;
- the feeling of achieving depth and flow, and;
- the cultivation of perseverance and character.
There are plenty of examples Newport refers to in making his point. To learn more, you can refer to his book in the above link.