Week 4 | Passion and Career

The Clarity of the Craftsman

In this chapter Cal Newport discusses both the craftsman mindset and the passion mindset in terms of approaching work. The craftsman mindset about focusing on becoming so good at what you do that you cannot be ignored.  In other words, if you have this mindset are focusing on what value you bring to the job. It’s about what you as a skilled worker can offer the world. Cal describes this as a crucial avenue for ‘building a career you love’

The passion mindset however is a focus on what the world can offer you and more specifically what your job can offer you. This mindset is very familiar and is how most people approach their working lives. Cal lists two reason that he dislikes the passion mindset. First, when you focus on only what your work offers you, it can make you overly aware of what you don’t like about you job. This is especially true for entry-level positions in which I soon may become familiar with. Secondly, the ambiguity of the deep questions that underly the passion mindset such as ‘What do i truly love?’ are impossible to answer which can leave one unhappy and complexed.

By adopting the craftsman mindset one acknowledges that truth that no one owes a great career, its not handed to us on a silver spoon and that we have to work hard and earn it. I find this chapter relevant to my life now. I’ve grown up being told to do what I love doing. However I’ve never known what I really love doing and what I want to do career-wise. As a result, I’ve always found the idea that people knew what they wanted to do with their lives before even trying their hand in that particular trade perplexing. I am at the point that I’m not sure if Media is the path for me or not. I’ve waited for passion and motivation to just magically appear. But maybe if I adopt more of a craftsman mindset then a career might evolve into something I am passionate about. As Newport says ‘adopt the craftsman mindset first and then the passion follows’.


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.

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