Sun, 8 March 2015
Everyone says you should follow your passion. But everyone isn't always right. If you want to achieve massive success in your career then passion might not even remotely be the right place the start. In today's Book-of-the-Day, "So Good They Can't Ignore You," Cal Newport examines the science of how to best choose your life's work. Newport says, "Don't follow your passion." This book is a bit controversial. It goes against most of what you've heard in the popular media. Steve Jobs, of course, disagreed with this book's premise.
Jobs said, "You've got to find what you love... And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle."
But Newport argues that if you actually look at what Steve Jobs did with his life, you will find a different story. Steve Jobs didn't start with passion for technology or design. In fact he was more of a hippie at first, interested in going to Zen monasteries and 'dropping out' of life.
Newport summarizes, "Compelling careers often have complex origins that reject the simple idea that all you have to do is follow your passion."
That reminds me a bit of Einstein, "Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler."
So what is a better way to find out what you should be doing for work?
Let me give you a few ideas from the book and a few of my own:
1. Experience Creates Passion: Yale professor Amy Wrzesniewski published a paper called, "Jobs, Careers, and Callings: People’s Relations to Their Work." She discovered that the strongest predictor of seeing work as a calling was the number of years spent on the job. Experience at something seems to create love of what you do. Practice and years in the career matter.
2. Passion Is A Side-Effect Of Mastery: Daniel Pink is mentioned in the book along with a 40 year scientific framework called "Self-Determination Theory." The theory goes that intrinsic motivation comes from:
A. Autonomy - Having control over your career and feeling that what you are doing is meaningful.
B. Competence - Feeling like a master of the skills you practice at work.
C. Relatedness - Having strong social connections at your job.
So you must have a well rounded approach to finding your life's work. It's not as simple as just finding your passion. This theory of 'relatedness' actually shows that "WHO" you work with is almost as important as "WHAT" you do for work. Social life matters - even when it comes to work.
3. Strengths Before All: My personal experience is a bit different than this book. I think that more important than just having a lot of experience, autonomy, competence, and relatedness, you must have 'APTITUDE' - what are you good at naturally?
I believe that this is the trump card that beats all other factors.
This is what Peter Drucker taught in "Managing Oneself": "Most people think they know what they are good at. They are usually wrong…And yet, a person can perform only from strength.”
One of the most important parts of my "67 Steps" program is the question of "Eularian Destiny."
I talk about the 5 or 6 ways you can determine your strengths (it's a bit too long to explain here but check out the "67 Steps" and review that video).
The basic explanation is that you have to open up multiple lines of "feedback analysis" so that you can get clues as to what your strengths are from multiple sources. You can't just go with your gut or ask your mom or best friend.
Most of us have huge blind spots when it comes to determining our strengths.
And make no mistake, personality types exist. And because they exist it's logical that natural strengths and weaknesses must also exist. You can't just pick something you are passionate about and make that your career if you have no natural aptitude at it. Some passions should just stay hobbies.
You have to be better than the average. Much better.
In "Positive Psychology: The Science Of Happiness and Flourishing" authors Compton and Hoffman say the three most common human regrets are: Career, education, and romance.
Let me know, how well have you built your career around these principles?