The clips below are taken directly from my highlights as I read this book. Reference below to ‘I’ is referring to the author. I will mark any comments I add as my own thoughts in bold beginning with Note:.
Rule #1: Don’t Follow Your Passion
Chapter One: The “Passion” of Steve Jobs
Chapter Two: Passion is Rare
Chapter Three: Passion is Dangerous
Rule #2: Be So Good They Can’t Ignore You (Or, the Importance of Skill)
Chapter Four: The Clarity of the Craftsman
Chapter Five: The Power of Career Capital
Chapter Six: The Career Capitalists
Chapter Seven: Becoming a Craftsman
Summary of Rule #2
Rule #3: Turn Down a Promotion (Or, the Importance of Control)
Chapter Eight: The Dream-Job Elixir
Chapter Nine: The First Control Trap
Chapter Ten: The Second Control Trap
Chapter Eleven: Avoiding the Control Traps
Summary of Rule #3
Rule #4: Think Small, Act Big (Or, the Importance of Mission)
Chapter Twelve: The Meaningful Life of Pardis Sabeti
Chapter Thirteen: Missions Require Capital
Chapter Fourteen: Missions Require Little Bets
Chapter Fifteen: Missions Require Marketing
Summary of Rule #4
The “Passion” of Steve Jobs In which I question the validity of the passion hypothesis, which says that the key to occupational happiness is to match your job to a pre-existing passion.
Passion Is Rare In which I argue that the more you seek examples of the passion hypothesis, the more you recognize its rarity.
Passion Is Dangerous In which I argue that subscribing to the passion hypothesis can make you less happy.
The Clarity of the Craftsman In which I introduce two different approaches to thinking about work:
- the craftsman mindset, a focus on what value you’re producing in your job, and
- the passion mindset, a focus on what value your job offers you.
Most people adopt the passion mindset, but in this chapter I argue that the craftsman mindset is the foundation for creating work you love.
I track the hours spent each month dedicated to thinking hard about research problems (in the month in which I first wrote this chapter, for example, I dedicated forty-two hours to these core tasks). This hour-tracking strategy helped turn my attention back above all else to the quality of what I produce.
The Power of Career Capital In which I justify the importance of the craftsman mindset by arguing that the traits that make a great job great are rare and valuable, and therefore, if you want a great job, you need to build up rare and valuable skills—which I call career capital—to offer in return.
TRAITS THAT DEFINE GREAT WORK
- Creativity: Ira Glass, for example, is pushing the boundaries of radio, and winning armfuls of awards in the process.
- Impact: From the Apple II to the iPhone, Steve Jobs has changed the way we live our lives in the digital age.
- Control: No one tells Al Merrick when to wake up or what to wear. He’s not expected in an office from nine to five. Instead, his Channel Island Surfboards factory is located a block from the Santa Barbara beach, where Merrick still regularly spends time surfing. ( Jake Burton Carpenter, founder of Burton Snowboards, for example, recalls how negotiations for the merger between the two companies happened while he and Merrick waited for waves in a surf lineup.)
THE CAREER CAPITAL THEORY OF GREAT WORK The traits that define great work are rare and valuable. Supply and demand says that if you want these traits you need rare and valuable skills to offer in return. Think of these rare and valuable skills you can offer as your career capital. The craftsman mindset, with its relentless focus on becoming “so good they can’t ignore you,” is a strategy well suited for acquiring career capital. This is why it trumps the passion mindset if your goal is to create work you love.
Duffy, it turns out, is from the craftsman school of thought. Instead of fleeing the constraints of his current job, he began acquiring the career capital he’d need to buy himself out of them.
Note: great questions to ask yourself about your current or future career
THREE DISQUALIFIERS FOR APPLYING THE CRAFTSMAN MINDSET
- The job presents few opportunities to distinguish yourself by developing relevant skills that are rare and valuable.
- The job focuses on something you think is useless or perhaps even actively bad for the world.
- The job forces you to work with people you really dislike
The Career Capitalists In which I demonstrate the power of career capital in action with two profiles of people who leveraged the craftsman mindset to construct careers they love.
Becoming a Craftsman In which I introduce deliberate practice, the key strategy for acquiring career capital, and show how to integrate it into your own working life.
the difference in strategy that separates average guitar players like me from stars like Tice and Casstevens is not confined to music. This focus on stretching your ability and receiving immediate feedback provides the core of a more universal principle—one
In the early 1990s, Anders Ericsson, a colleague of Neil Charness at Florida State University, coined the term “deliberate practice” to describe this style of serious study, defining it formally as an “activity designed, typically by a teacher, for the sole purpose of effectively improving specific aspects of an individual’s performance.”
Let’s assume you’re a knowledge worker, which is a field without a clear training philosophy. If you can figure out how to integrate deliberate practice into your own life, you have the possibility of blowing past your peers in your value, as you’ll likely be alone in your dedication to systematically getting better. That is, deliberate practice might provide the key to quickly becoming so good they can’t ignore you.
In his current position as a venture capitalist, Mike maintains his dedication to stretching his ability, guided by feedback. His new tool of choice is a spreadsheet, which he uses to track how he spends every hour of every day. “At the beginning of each week I figure out how much time I want to spend on different activities,” he explained. “I then track it so I can see how close I came to my targets.” On the sample spreadsheet he sent me, he divides his activities into two categories: hard to change (i.e., weekly commitments he can’t avoid) and highly changeable (i.e., self-directed activities that he controls). Here’s the amount of time he dedicates to each:
Step 1: Decide What Capital Market You’re In
When you are acquiring career capital in a field, you can imagine that you are acquiring this capital in a specific type of career capital market. There are two types of these markets: winner-take-all and auction.
Step 2: Identify Your Capital Type
open gates—opportunities to build capital that are already open to you.
Step 3: Define “Good”
Step 4: Stretch and Destroy
Doing things we know how to do well is enjoyable, and that’s exactly the opposite of what deliberate practice demands…. Deliberate practice is above all an effort of focus and concentration. That is what makes it “deliberate,” as distinct from the mindless playing of scales or hitting of tennis balls that most people engage in.
Deliberate practice is often the opposite of enjoyable.
Step 5: Be Patient
The Dream-Job Elixir In which I argue that control over what you do, and how you do it, is one of the most powerful traits you can acquire when creating work you love.
The First Control Trap In which I introduce the first control trap, which warns that it’s dangerous to pursue more control in your working life before you have career capital to offer in exchange.
The First Control Trap Control that’s acquired without career capital is not sustainable.
The Second Control Trap In which I introduce the second control trap, which warns that once you have enough career capital to acquire more control in your working life, you have become valuable enough to your employer that they will fight your efforts to gain more autonomy.
The Second Control Trap The point at which you have acquired enough career capital to get meaningful control over your working life is exactly the point when you’ve become valuable enough to your current employer that they will try to prevent you from making the change.
Avoiding the Control Traps In which I explain the law of financial viability, which says you should only pursue a bid for more control if you have evidence that it’s something that people are willing to pay you for.
“I have this principle about money that overrides my other life rules,” he said. “Do what people are willing to pay for.”
“Money is a neutral indicator of value. By aiming to make money, you’re aiming to be valuable.”
The Law of Financial Viability When deciding whether to follow an appealing pursuit that will introduce more control into your work life, seek evidence of whether people are willing to pay for it. If you find this evidence, continue. If not, move on.
The Meaningful Life of Pardis Sabeti In which I argue that a unifying mission to your working life can be a source of great satisfaction.
The Power of Mission To have a mission is to have a unifying focus for your career. It’s more general than a specific job and can span multiple positions. It provides an answer to the question, What should I do with my life?
Missions Require Capital In which I argue that a mission chosen before you have relevant career capital is not likely to be sustainable.
Missions Require Little Bets In which I argue that great missions are transformed into great successes as the result of using small and achievable projects—little bets—to explore the concrete possibilities surrounding a compelling idea.
Missions Require Marketing In which I argue that great missions are transformed into great successes as the result of finding projects that satisfy the law of remarkability, which requires that an idea inspires people to remark about it, and is launched in a venue where such remarking is made easy.
Strain, I now accepted, was good. Instead of seeing this discomfort as a sensation to avoid, I began to understand it the same way that a body builder understands muscle burn: a sign that you’re doing something right.
a little bet, in the setting of mission exploration, has the following characteristics: It’s a project small enough to be completed in less than a month. It forces you to create new value (e.g., master a new skill and produce new results that didn’t exist before). It produces a concrete result that you can use to gather concrete feedback.