So Good They Can’t Ignore You by Cal Newport

51IjORMFLkLSo Good They Can’t Ignore You is a story of a man’s search for the truth behind our quest to find passion in one’s work. He uses his interviews, with those that have claimed to have found passion in what they do, to derive a thesis that he believes is THE way to find a positive work environment.

Two key take aways I had from this books are the importance of:

  1. Deliberate practice
  2. Small projects

The two make up critical pieces needed for the “10,000” hours of expertise Malcolm Gladwell made famous.  Deliberate practice specifically looks at the importance of getting a steady stream of critique for your craft while you practive. “Small projects” look at the importance of dipping your toe into side projects that help you explore your craft, while building new skills. As a tinkerer I relate to those two points immensely, though I can improve on my search for harsh outside critique. For that I often think I am my own worst enemy, but that’s just a copout.

As a book I found the writing to be a bit redundant. Not a bad book per se, and the stories and perspective on what could be a common myth to “follow your passion” are interesting, but he could have done it with a book half its size – or just a long blog post. Unfortunately, because of the way it is written, you have to work through the repetitiveness to get to the good parts. Is it a must read? In a way, yes – it is a nice supplemental to books like Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. But, I think the cliff notes may do just as well.

His conclusion to find work you love rests of the following rules:

  1. Rule #1: Don’t Follow Your Passion.

  2. Rule #2: Be So Good They Can’t Ignore You.

  3. Rule #3: Turn Down a Promotion.

  4. Rule #4: Think Small, Act Big.

Related Books or Similar Themes:

  • Outliers