So good they can´t ignore you

So good they can´t ignore you

In other words, you need to be good at something before you can expect a good job.

This post is based on the book “So good they can’t ignore you” from Cal Newport.

I started this book by recommendation of Jorge Zavala, why? not sure, but I think it’s because I am on my journey to discover better ways to be more effective, focused on the real important things and create a greater and faster impact.

At my work, like a leader of a team, teacher, consultant and other roles I have the opportunity to see a lot of people profiles, most of them looking for loved jobs, lives, and companies.

The main quote from the book says “In other words, you need to be good at something before you can expect a good job” and I was shocked by the power of the quote, I believe it, I think is true, but is not easy to challenge ourselves to understand it. Is easier to look for shortcuts, follow our passions, develop soft skills, or stay in comfort zone.

Rule #1 Don´t follow your passion.

Steve JobsSteve Jobs said at Stanford Speech: “You´ve got to find what you love… The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven´t found it yet, keep looking, and don´t settle”.

Sounds easy, like a choice. But he did not say what behind the journey of looking for that passion, is not only a matter of taking a decision, it implies to work hard to discover that passion.

How many people do you know that has really cleared his passion? Just a few. More of the people including me have a ton of different interests. People who discover their real passion “are those people who have been around long enough to become good at what they do”

Passion is related to be so good on something, the rest is a consequence.

Conclusions about passions:

  1. Career passions are rare.
  2. Passion takes time.
  3. Passion is a side effect of mastery.

Rule #2 Be so good they can´t ignore you

Be-So-Good-Steve-Martin“If you are so good, you can fulfill the three basic psychological needs to feel motivated at work: autonomy, competence, and relatedness”. To find a great job is one of the most wanted things in life for people, but the question is, what does that mean? and what can I give in exchange to get that job?

I see a lot of people making a great effort, great attitude, team players and awesome personalities trying to be the best at their jobs, is that enough? or they need to start mastering a set of valuable skills? “Stop focusing on these little details”, “focus instead on becoming better”.

Most of the people expect that the job, the boss or the company provide the dreamed job, instead of being the dreamed worker. These two side expectations create an environment where we find a missed connection and miss-communication.

“Here´s what I respect: creating something meaningful and then presenting it to the world”

The craftsman mindset focuses on what you can offer to the world, the passion mindset focuses instead on what the world can offer you”.

The opportunity resides inside each person, at the beginning, the next steps, are coming from outside. If people are enough prepared to catch those opportunities the desired job will knock the door, otherwise, you will be sited waiting the outside come and make you great.

“If you want a great job, you need to build up rare and valuable skills”

Being good is not enough.
A great attitude is the least you can bring to my place.
A great effort is part of your job.
If you want to go further, train, train all the time and become the best player.

“If you want to love what you do, abandon the passion mindset and instead adopt the craftsman mindset”

Not all the jobs represent an environment to develop this kind of thinking, many companies are just trying to get the job done, instead of developing people. Try to identify what is the kind of job that allows you to develop valuable skills, if you spend the whole day doing the same things, things that can be done by anyone with a few training you are in problems, you could spend a long time there without any chances to obtain a promotion.

3 disqualifies for applying the craftsman mindset:

  1. The job presents few opportunities to distinguish yourself by developing relevant skills that are rare and valuable.
  2. The job focuses on something you think is useless or perhaps even actively bad for the world.
  3. The job forces you to work with people you really dislike.

Mastery, scared word, most of the people see this word like something impossible or reserved for genius. There are levels of mastery, the opportunity is when you, in a deliberate thinking, work, spend hours, train and develop a plan to increase that level.

Think about those things that you practice to be better, anything, something that you spend time outside the work to improve and you are not paid for it. Let me give you some examples? How many time you spend…

  • Researching and practicing for some methodology useful at work?
  • Shooting at the court before the weekend game?
  • Running during the week before the marathon?
  • Reading and practicing about how to speak in public before a meeting?
  • Staying late to increase your knowledge at certain topic?

“I played, but he practiced” “I developed muscle memory the hard way, by repetition” “The harder I work, the more relaxed I can play, and the better it sounds”.

I’ve heard a lot about people separating work like an undesired thing, which most, want to keep it in a box after office until the next day. Just show up at the office and give your best effort. It is not enough, you need to train to be the best at your job, increase your knowledge, know the industry, improve your work tools, your system, and you will see the results. It is a lifetime accumulation of deliberate practice that again and again ends up explaining excellence.

“The idea that excellence at performing a complex task requires a critical minimum level of practice surfaces again and again in studies of expertise. In fact, researchers have settled on what they believe is the magic number for true expertise: 10 000 hours”.

Deliberate practice: activity designed, typically by a teacher, for the sole purpose of effectively improving specific aspects of an individual´s performance.

Mike Jackson´s Work - Hour Allocation at So good they can´t ignore you

“I want to spend time on what´s important, instead of what´s immediate” How you spend your time is one kind of mastery, if you don´t develop new skills and knowledge and get stuck at urgent tasks you don´t increase your career capital.

Rule#3 The importance of control

“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”


Where is the money? Travel a lot? Friendly job environment? The coworkers? Nice office? .… control.

Yes, control is the elixir of the dreamed job, and most of the time gives you the opportunity to achieve the rest of the things important for you. Once you gain control.

“Giving people more control over what they do and how they do it increases their happiness, engagement, and sense of fulfillment”.

Be careful of the control traps:

  1. It´s dangerous to pursue more control in your working life before you have career capital to offer in exchange. Control is seductive. Control that´s acquired with career capital is not sustainable.
  2. 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.

Rule #4: Think Small, Act Big

“Unifying mission to your working life can be a source of great satisfaction. Missions are powerful because they focus your energy toward a useful goal, and this, in turn, maximizes your impact on your world -a crucial factor in loving what you do”

Before you think the mission is something easy to find, I will advance that mission is something that becomes after and only after being so good on anything, not before. Be careful about it, otherwise, you can fall in the passion purpose job.

“Mission chosen before you have relevant career capital is not likely to be sustainable”.

It is not easy to find it, a good career mission is similar to a scientific breakthrough –it´s an innovation waiting to be discovered in the adjacent possible of your field.

Why do you need to wait to be focused on a mission? You don´t, sometimes you need to understand, live, know and try a lot of things before finding that mission.

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.


Be so good and deliberate practice can be a way of living, with great results once you got a certain level, no shortcuts.

It is not easy, but you can create systems to improve your deliberate practice. Working right trumps finding the right work

Conclusions at So good they can´t ignore you

“Don´t obsess over discovering your true calling. Instead, master rare and valuable skills. Once you build up the career capital that these skills generate, invest wisely. Use it to acquire control over what you do and how you do it, and to identify and act on a life-changing mission. This philosophy is less sexy than the fantasy of dropping everything to go live among the monks in the mountains, but it´s also a philosophy that has been shown time and again to actually work”

Final at So good they can´t ignore you

My book´s club Slideshare:



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