I’m coming up to graduation, which means it’s time to get my career head on.
I recently finished So Good They Can’t Ignore You by Cal Newport – a career book that had been recommended on a podcast I listen to.
I had a ton of work to do when they mentioned the book, so, of course, I left my work and read the book instead.
Yay for reading.
Boo for university.
On the whole, the advice was centred around finding something you’re good at (not “following your passion”) and then becoming incredibly skilled in that field.
Towards the end of the book, Newport referenced Seth Godin’s Purple Cow theory that nobody remembers a brown cow, but you’d struggle to forget a purple one. In short, you’re either remarkable or invisible.
I found myself thinking about it days after I’d finished the book. You’re either remarkable or invisible.
As someone who is about to leave education and take on a full time career, this short statement seems to hold everything I’ve ever thought about careers in five words.
Let’s clear something up.
This doesn’t mean there’s nothing between being terrible at your job and being excellent. It means everything below excellent is invisible.
As with many things that are true, most people won’t find any comfort in that statement.
But it’s not supposed to be comforting, it’s supposed to be motivating.
If you are set on a rewarding career, digest it as a reminder that lukewarm success just won’t do and if you want to be seen, you need to produce something that people remember, something remarkable.
A good career should be built predominantly on skill, not solely on passion.
If you happen to love what you’re skilled at then great, but don’t confuse the two.
Often when it comes to careers we are told to do what we love. But when someone says they don’t know what sort of career to pursue, the question shouldn’t be “what are you passionate about?” it should be “what are you good at?”
Blindly following passion rarely holds up in the real world, because business is built on skill.
Skill with passion is gold; passion without skill is worthless.
So, fellow students, don’t think about what you love, think about what you’re good at, and think about how the skills you already have could potentially progress you in the working world.
And then build upon that skill, put in the hours – the relentless, draining hours – to become remarkable.
Because nobody wants to be the alternative.