“So Good They Can’t Ignore You”

Cal Newport, 2012, ‘The Clarity of the Craftsman’ in So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work, NY Business Plus, ch.4.

Newport divides the way we approach building a career into the craftsperson mindset and the passion mindset, with the former focusing on what you can offer the world and seeks satisfaction from your output, the latter focuses on what the world can offer you and seeks gratification from your work. Newport suggests that by focusing your energy on practicing and mastering your craft, a confidence and fulfillment will ensue. Alternatively, focusing your energy on what you gain from or feel towards your craft, will lead to challenging questions and ultimately dissatisfaction. The passion mindset, Newport believes, sets us up for perpetual unhappiness.

I interpret this as the craftsperson mindset embodying a focus on the tangible present and the passion mindset focusing on the future or a more abstract idea of the present. Newport would suggest that passion does not exist unlocked somewhere, waiting for us to stumble upon it, but rather is born through practice and dedication. I think this a helpful way of looking at our search for happiness in general and the construction of happiness as a separate commodity or an end goal, as opposed to a part of a process or cycle. This idea of happiness exists as part of the capitalist framework and is never really able to be attained or held onto and thus we are perpetually searching and chasing.

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