Invest the career capital to gain control over how you work and what you work on. Traps: 1> Going for control before earning enough career capital. 2> Once you have career capital, you are valuable so the employers don’t want you to have more control. Also law of financial viability: unless people are willing to pay you, it’s not an idea to go after.
Importance of mission. Exploring the adjacent possible for missions. Using little bets to explore specific projects within mission area. The law of remarkability to market the mission.
When it comes to creating work you love, following your passion is not particularly useful advice.
Self-Determination Theory (SDT)
SDT tells us that motivation, in the workplace or elsewhere, requires that you fulfill three basic psychological needs—factors described as the “nutriments” required to feel intrinsically motivated for your work: Autonomy: the feeling that you have control over your day, and that your actions are important Competence: the feeling that you are good at what you do Relatedness: the feeling of connection to other people
“Nobody ever takes note of [my advice], because it’s not the answer they wanted to hear,” Martin said. “What they want to hear is ‘Here’s how you get an agent, here’s how you write a script,’ … but I always say, ‘Be so good they can’t ignore you.’ ”
It’s clear in his telling that there was no real shortcut to his eventual fame. “[Eventually] you are so experienced [that] there’s a confidence that comes out,” Martin explained. “I think it’s something the audience smells.”
Whereas the craftsman mindset focuses on what you can offer the world, the passion mindset focuses instead on what the world can offer you.
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.
The downside of the passion mindset is that it strips away merit.
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.
Working right, therefore, still trumps finding the right work.
This focus on stretching your ability and receiving immediate feedback provides the core of a more universal principle
The Norwegian chess phenom Magnus Carlsen, for example, paid Garry Kasparov over $700,000 a year to add polish to his otherwise intuitive playing style.
…if you just show up and work hard, you’ll soon hit a performance plateau beyond which you fail to get any better.
…the traits that Anders Ericsson defined as crucial for deliberate practice. He stretched his abilities by taking on projects that were beyond his current comfort zone; and not just one at a time, but often up to three or four writing commissions concurrently, all the while holding down a day job! He then obsessively sought feedback, on everything
“I want to spend time on what’s important, instead of what’s immediate,” Mike explained.
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. I like the term “stretch” for describing what deliberate practice feels like
This is what you should experience in your own pursuit of “good.” If you’re not uncomfortable, then you’re probably stuck at an “acceptable level.”
the other part is embracing honest feedback—even if it destroys what you thought was good. As Colvin explains in his Fortune article, “You may think that your rehearsal of a job interview was flawless, but your opinion isn’t what counts.”
the importance of “diligence” for his success in the entertainment business. What’s interesting is that Martin redefines the word so that it’s less about paying attention to your main pursuit, and more about your willingness to ignore other pursuits that pop up along the way to distract you.
people with compelling careers instead start by getting good at something rare and valuable—building what I called “career capital”—and then cashing in this capital for the traits that make great work great.
Results-Only Work Environment (or, ROWE, for short). In a ROWE company, all that matters is your results. When you show up to work and when you leave, when you take vacations, and how often you check e-mail are all irrelevant. They leave it to the employee to figure out whatever works best for getting the important things done. “No results, no job: It’s that simple,” as ROWE supporters like to say. If
Giving people more control over what they do and how they do it increases their happiness, engagement, and sense of fulfillment.
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.
This is the irony of control. When no one cares what you do with your working life, you probably don’t have enough career capital to do anything interesting. But once you do have this capital, as Lulu and Lewis discovered, you’ve become valuable enough that your employer will resist your efforts.
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.
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.
Derek thought for a moment. “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.”
He also emphasized that hobbies are clearly exempt from this rule.
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.
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.
When she arrived at MIT, she was forced to choose between math and bio. “It turns out that the MIT bio department has an unbelievable emphasis on teaching,” she explained. “So I majored in bio.”
He didn’t decide out of nowhere that he wanted to host a television show and then work backward to make that dream a reality. Instead, he worked forward from his original mission—to popularize archaeology—with a series of small, almost tentative steps.
“Rather than believing they have to start with a big idea or plan out a whole project in advance,” he writes, “they make a methodical series of little bets about what might be a good direction, learning critical information from lots of little failures and from small but significant wins”.
The important thing about little bets is that they’re bite-sized. You try one. It takes a few months at most. It either succeeds or fails, but either way you get important feedback to guide your next steps.
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.
In other words, he used his capital to build a career custom-fit to his personality, which is why he now loves his working life.
The Law of Remarkability
For a mission-driven project to succeed, it should be remarkable in two different ways. First, it must compel people who encounter it to remark about it to others. Second, it must be launched in a venue that supports such remarking.
the motivation to write my first book was an idle dare leveled by an entrepreneur I admired whom I met one night for drinks: “Don’t just talk about it,” he scolded me when I offhandedly mentioned the book idea. “If you think it would be cool, go do it.” This seemed as good a reason as any for me to proceed.
It’s here that if you’re not careful to keep pushing forward, your improvement can taper off to what the performance scientist Anders Ericsson called an “acceptable level,” where you then remain stuck. The research driving Rule #2 taught me that these plateaus are dangerous because they cut off your supply of career capital and therefore cripple your ability to keep actively shaping your working life.
To combat this resistance, I deployed two types of structure.
The first type was time structure: “I am going to work on this for one hour,” I would tell myself. “I don’t care if I faint from the effort, or make no progress, for the next hour this is my whole world.”
The second type of structure I deployed was information structure—a way of capturing the results of my hard focus in a useful form.
My Hour-Tally Routine
Another deliberate-practice routine was the introduction of my hour tally—a sheet of paper I mounted behind my desk at MIT, and plan on remounting at Georgetown. The sheet has a row for each month on which I keep a tally of the total number of hours I’ve spent that month in a state of deliberate practice.
By having these hour counts stare me in the face every day I’m motivated to find new ways to fit more deliberate practice into my schedule.
When you adopt a productivity mindset, however, deliberate practice-inducing tasks are often sidestepped, as the ambiguous path toward their completion, when combined with the discomfort of the mental strain they require, makes them an unpopular choice in scheduling decisions. It’s much easier to redesign your graduate-student Web page than it is to grapple with a mind-melting proof.
Rule #3 argued that control over what you do and how you do it is such a powerful force for building remarkable careers that it could rightly be called a “dream-job elixir.”
the law of financial viability, and described it as follows: “When deciding whether to follow an appealing pursuit that will introduce more control into your work life, ask yourself whether people are willing to pay you for it. If so, continue. If not, move on.”
Top Level: The Tentative Research Mission
My system is guided, at the top level of the pyramid, by a tentative research mission—a sort of rough guideline for the type of work I’m interested in doing.
Bottom Level: Background Research
Here’s my rule: Every week, I expose myself to something new about my field. I can read a paper, attend a talk, or schedule a meeting. To ensure that I really understand the new idea, I require myself to add a summary, in my own words, to my growing “research bible”
I also try to carve out one walk each day for free-form thinking about the ideas turned up by this background research (I commute to work on foot and have a dog to exercise, so I have many such walks to choose from in my schedule). The
Middle Level: Exploratory Projects
Working right trumps finding the right work