The book is about how to build a great career and find happiness in the job.

1/ Don’t “follow” your passion

To begin with, the author convinces us NOT to “follow” - not depersely looking for our passions. He argues that most of us don’t have a clear pre-existing passion, and not to mention that passion is rare. It’s easy to fall into a trap where we are waiting for the passion to come. Following passion is bad advice though, as people will live up to high expectations, resulting in chronic unhappiness when they compare the fantasy world to their realities. Most successful people don’t have a simple straight-line career path, it is rather up and down with a lot of turning points.

2/ What makes a job satisfied (job satisfaction)?

  • Competence: The job that we are good at
  • Autonomy: The feeling that we can control over the working day
  • Relatedness: Have connection with people (value to the team)

3/ If following your passion is bad advice, what should we do instead?

The book urges us to change the mindset, to what the author called the “craftsman mindset”.

Following passion makes a “passion” mindset in which we keep asking ourselves: what the world can offer us? Conversely, “craftsman mindset” is more about “what we can offer the world in return to get the dream job?”.

The craftsman mindset plays an essential role in building a compelling career.

Habits for craftsman mindset: If you want great work, you need rare and valuable skills to offer in return ⇒ Relentlessly building up “career capital”.

4/ 10,000-hour rule:

To be at the top in a narrow field like chess, it takes 10k hours on average. The key here is a dedication to “deliberate practice”, keep pushing the limit, get out of the comfort zone, the stretching we need to push us past the performance plateau. In addition to that, we need harsh feedback to know if we’re good enough. Last but not least, diligence as deliberate practice takes time.

Control over what we do and how we do it can give us a sense of fulfillment.

5/ The control traps

Many people opt for their own exotic lifestyle design rather than living normal conventional lives. For example, some drop out of college to pursue their dreams but fail to have value capital in return.

  • The first control trap: One decides to abandon the current job for a new job, but at this point, his/her career capital is not adequate to pursue the new change resulting in a failure.
  • The second control trap: When we become too valuable for the company, they don’t want to let us earn more control because it usually causes a conflict with their bottom line. They are likely to resist our desire by tying us with more benefits, e.g., moving us to a higher position, more salary. We may end up getting stuck at the company, losing “control” over “money”.

The question is, how to recognize which situation we are in? Should we realize the resistance as a sign to wait (firs trap), or ignore it to move on (second trap)? The answer lies in Financial availability.

6 Overcome the control traps

  • Financial availability: means to test if something may work or not. More specifically, we need to see if people are willing to pay for what we do. It’s worth noting that money is not the main target, but it is a good way to measure if our plan can work.

7/ Find the mission

  • We need to find a mission in the job. The mission will require career capital, financial availability with little bets to see if it’s likely to work out, and marketing (how to let people know we’re good).
  • Think small, act big: It takes time to patiently build up career capital (think small) to move to the cutting edge (enough career capital), once we’re there, we can go beyond it (act big).

8/ Tips to build career capital

Keep track of tasks and the number of hours spent on deliberate practice. Keep checking on it (daily, weekly, monthly), form “stretching ability” habits.

Take-away message: If we don’t know what our “passions” are, it’s totally fine. There are a lot of opportunities out there. Take a job that we think it’s a good fit for us. Build the career capital, see how we can climb on the career ladder. If there’s a better opportunity, take the chance, but watch out for the control traps when changing the job. If we spend time with a job long enough and have adequate career capital, we may end up loving it.