Margin of Excellence

Published Post:

How To Find Work You Love

Don't follow your passion. That sounds like bad advice, right? Well that's exactly what my first book, Becoming So Good They Can't Ignore You, tells you to do if you want to find work you love. You don't have pre-existing passions to discover that will lead you to your dream job and work you love. Career passions are rare, and it takes time to develop a passion. If you want to find work you love, then you must adopt the Craftsman Mindset.

“Nobody ever takes note of my advice, because it’s not the answer they wanted to hear.
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.’
If somebody’s thinking, ‘How can I be really good?’ people are going to come to you.”
- Steve Martin

The Craftsman Mindset trumps the Passion Mindset because it tells you to forget the self-centered concerns about what your job does for you, and to put your head down and plug away at becoming so good they can't ignore you. The Craftsman Mindset focuses on what value you are producing at your job. It forces you to focus on becoming better at your craft with constant, incremental improvements in your skills. To fully adopt the Craftsman Mindset, you must allow yourself to spend time every day focusing on deliberate practice to stretch your abilities outside your comfort zone. In doing so, you are forced to deal with your fears, especially your fear of failure. However, failure is an imperative part of the learning process, especially as an entrepreneur who is on a quest to find work you love.

As part of my Craftsman Mindset, I spend at least one hour every day reading on topics that will increase my knowledge and enhance my personal development in a variety of areas (e.g., entrepreneurship, leadership, technology, ultimate frisbee, etc.). Deliberate practice is the key to adopting the Craftsman Mindset. I cannot stress this enough. Stretch your ability. Go outside your comfort zone. Embrace failure. Succeeding 100% of the time is a waste. You must fail, so you can learn from the failures to achieve greater success in the future. Focus on specific areas you want to develop. Concentrate all your efforts on performing at the highest possible level. And then find ways to stretch your abilities even more to perform at an even higher level.

There’s something liberating about the Craftsman Mindset. It tells you to leave behind self-centered concerns about whether your job is “just right,” and instead put your head down and focus on getting really, really good. No one owes you a great career. You need to earn it, and the process certainly won’t be easy. Regardless of how you feel about your current job situation, adopting a Craftsman Mindset will be the foundation on which you will build a compelling career. When you deliberately practice and stretch your abilities, you acquire more career capital.

The Career Capital Theory of Great Work states that the traits that define great work are rare and valuable and require rare and valuable skills, known as career capital. To acquire this career capital, you must be willing to focus on deliberate practice and stretching yourself outside of your comfort zone. Malcolm Gladwell’s book, Outliers, states that it takes approximately 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to master a skill. For instance, it would take 10 years of practicing 3 hours a day to become a master in your subject. It would take approximately 5 years of full-time employment to become proficient in your field. To successfully adopt the Craftsman Mindset, you have to approach your job(s) the same way professional athletes approach training for their sport, with a dedication to deliberate practice.

People with compelling careers start by getting good at something rare and valuable, building their career capital, and then cashing in this capital for the traits that make great work great. Your first step in finding work you love is to adopt the Craftsman Mindset. Next, you need to sit down and decide what rare and valuable skills you want to learn. A few months ago, I worked closely with Scott through his Personal Growth Coaching program. With Scott's help, I was able to identify several areas in my life where I wanted to focus on improving in 2013. The goal setting process taught me a lot about the pillars in my life that were most important to me, and it allowed me to plan for the year ahead. We are only two months into 2013, and I have already achieved several of the goals I set for myself including:

  • Maintaining strong relationships with family and friends
  • Spending a month traveling down the coast of CA
  • Publishing my first book
  • Achieving more financial security
  • Coaching Georgetown ultimate to a 2nd place tournament finish
  • Attending mass on a regular basis
  • Going on at least one real date each month
  • Teaching my first college class (yesterday!)

Thanks again to Scott for having such a positive impact on my life. I highly encourage you to check out his Personal Growth Coaching. If you want to learn more about adopting the Craftsman Mindset to find work you love, please download my first book and share it with your colleagues, friends, and family members. Here is a link to the free PDF version of Becoming So Good They Can't Ignore You. The book is < 60 pages and can be read in about an hour, much like Scott's free book, The 45-Minute MBA. I'd love to hear about your journey while adopting the Craftsman Mindset in the comments below!