By David Skidmore
September 13, 2022

Focus on growth to find passion

Cal Newport discusses the path to developing passion rather than searching for passion.

So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love

By Cal Newport

How do I find my passion?

This question has driven people for years, and this book is about that. However, the roadmap Cal Newport provides is not the expected path of the Western world. 

“Don’t follow your passion; rather, let it follow you in your quest to become, in the words of my favorite Steve Martin quote, ‘so good that they can’t ignore you.'” The book revolves around this quote from Newport. Instead of trying to find your passion, you give yourself to the never-ending growth process.

Newport dismantles the famous “follow your passion” quotes from leaders like Steve Jobs and, through evidence, shares, “Do what Steve Jobs did, not what he said.” He shows in his book that passion is not so much found through epiphany as it is honed through craft. “If you want to love what you do, abandon the passion mindset, ‘what can the world offer me?’ and instead adopt the craftsman mindset, ‘what can I offer the world?'”

One of the surprising truths Newport discovers is that “the happiest, most passionate employees are not those who followed their passion into a position, but instead those who have been around long enough to become good at what they do.”

A person needs time to discover a passion for their craft. “If your goal is to love what you do, you must first build up ‘career capital’ by mastering rare and valuable skills, and then cash in this capital for the traits that define great work.” If someone wants to grow in their skills, Newport shares, “The good news about deliberate practice is that it will push you past this plateau and into a realm where you have little competition.”

For these individuals to be successful, they also need other factors such as having more control over what they do which will, in turn, increase their level of engagement, sense of fulfillment, and even overall happiness. They also need to desire feedback if they want to accelerate their skill. 

Finally, Newport shares this gem. “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.”

Instead of searching for our passion, we can give ourselves to excellence, and in the process, we just might find it.

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About David Skidmore

David Skidmore is a speaker, leadership trainer, and executive coach. He is the founder and CEO of LeaderGrowth, a leadership company designed to help individuals and organizations overcome challenges and experience transformation. David is the author of Unstuck: Turn Potential into Purpose which is available on Amazon, and his podcast LeaderGrowth with David Skidmore is available wherever you listen to podcasts. He is the co-organizer of TEDxOklahomaCity and has coached 17 speakers resulting
in over 150k views. David enjoys the Oklahoma City Thunder, summers at the lake, and exploring new cities.