Book Review: So Good They Can’t Ignore You

This is perhaps one of the best books I’ve read on finding a satisfying career path. It focuses on dispelling the myth that truly satisfying work comes from following your passion. Instead it argues that true satisfaction at work comes from acquiring three key elements in your day to day experience:

  • Autonomy and control
  • Creative outlets
  • Meaningful relationships

It goes on to suggest that the best way to get all of these is by becoming highly skilled in your particular field of work such that you can command all three of these things as a condition of your work. In essence, it argues that true work satisfaction can be achieved by becoming excellent at something, which then engenders a passion for the work, as opposed to the more broadly espoused opinion that following your passion will lead to work satisfaction.

Indeed, following your passion will eventually lead to work satisfaction if you pursue it doggedly enough such that you become a true expert in that field. But the problem is that many people blindly jump into a field they think they are passionate about, but don’t yet have enough skill or value needed to command things like autonomy and creative control. This is where people ‘pursue their passion’ only to crash and burn. They didn’t have sufficient airspeed to take off in a given career path and they ended up crashing at the end of the runway.

Ultimately the book argues that the only thing you need to focus on is becoming the best at what you do – becoming so good they can’t ignore you. The rest will take care of itself. I think it’s good advice, but would add that whatever path you choose to follow, you should make sure it checks three boxes. It should be something:

  • People want
  • You can do uniquely well or easily
  • You enjoy doing

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If you find that intersection, then that is the gift you need to share with the world. Focus on developing deep expertise there, then good things will happen both for you and the world at large.

Enjoy!

Ramen-san


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