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Book Review: So Good They Can’t Ignore You

If you are trying to figure out what you want to do with your life, you will get some value from this book. It provides a critical perspective on the pitfalls of passion and the power of being a craftsman. 

These four rules are the four primary sections of the book.

RULE #1: Don’t Follow Your Passion

RULE #2: Be So Good They Can’t Ignore You (Importance of Skill)

RULE #3: Turn Down a Promotion ( Importance of Control)

RULE #4: Think Small, Act Big (importance of Mission)


The research for this book comes from a forty-year theoretical framework known as Self-Determination Theory (STD). In short, why some pursuits get us excited, and some don’t. 

The theory explains that motivation in the workplace or career requires that you fulfill three basic psychological needs. 

  • Autonomy: the feeling that you have control over your day, and that your actions are important
  • Competence: the belief that you are good at what you do
  • Relatedness: the sense of connection to other people.

So, keep this formula handy next time your thinking of starting a new job

“Autonomy + Competence + Relatedness = Fulfillment at work”

The book is a strategic guide to optimizing our inherent motivation—which is vital to having work you love.

Quick inventory:

  • Do you feel like you have control over your days and that your actions matter?
  • Do you feel like you’re good at what you do?
  • Do you feel connected to other people in your work?

“Working right trumps finding the right work.”


Newport presents two different ways somebody thinks about their working life. The first is the craftsman mindset, which focuses on what you can offer the world. The second is the passion mindset, which instead focuses on what the world can provide you. 

Having a sense of purpose + passion is great, but you have to be committed to mastering your craft and finding ways to create value, or you may end up broke. Focusing on passion might inspire us to quit our jobs, but if we want to pay the bills, we need to shift our focus to getting *really* good at creating value that people will pay for.

The craftsman mindset offers clarity that no one owes you a great career, you need to earn it—and the process won’t be easy.” Learn to obsess on how to make *other* people’s lives awesome.

What eats away at us is that we are living our lives as amateurs, we need to become an expert. Becoming an expert is free, but not easy. It is not for everyone; we have to be a bit crazy to do it, and in many ways, this path chooses us.


By applying and working on your craft when others are not, you will blow past your peers, and you will be systematically getting better. The deliberate practice provides the key to quickly becoming so good they can’t ignore you.  

Ericsson and Charness are the researchers who first discovered the 10,000-hour rule of world-class performance. Whether it’s entrepreneurs, scientists, chess masters, or performers in any field, it’s all about investing a large number of time and effort. Remember, it’s not enough to work hard; we need to be deliberate when working on our craft. 

For athletes and chess players, they have a clear path and strategy. However, for the rest of us, we don’t have any clearly defined way towards excellence. This is where the ordinary will accept their fate, but the extraordinary will solve out how to master their practice and powerfully differentiate themselves into world-class. 


Becoming so good they can’t ignore you equips you with traits that are rare and valuable. Simply, there is not enough supply for individuals who possess this mindset. Think of these unique and valuable skills you can offer as your career capital. It’s this career capital, which is accumulated over years of persistent, deliberate practice—that we cash in to create work we love. 

Failing to see the significance of this process is one of the reasons why passionate people are not able to find success or able to secure a stable position and sustainable career. Enough career capital hasn’t been accumulated. 

When you decide to follow a pursuit that will offer more control into your work life, look for evidence of whether people are willing to pay for it. If you find this evidence, continue. If not, move on.”

In closing, Cal’s message is clear: Passion by itself will not get us where we want to go. It is not about merely finding the right work. We need to work right.

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