So Good They Can’t Ignore You
I feel like putting this book into just about everyone’s hands that I know. So many people at so many different points of their lives could benefit from it.
His primary contention is that people typically over-value "passion" when considering what they should do in their careers. Rather, becoming more skilled at whatever you are currently doing is more likely to lead you to a happy career than anything else. It is in some ways a more nuanced exploration of Malcom Gladwell’s “10,000 hours” rule. The idea that sparked this book is Steve Martin talking about the fact that we love hearing about how successful people got their big break, but we always leave out the part of how they were ready to take advantage of the big break when it arrived. Steve Martin’s quote about his own success is to be “So good they can’t ignore you”. It is not that Steve Martin "loved" stand-up so much that it made him him good enough to get his big break on SNL or whatever. Rather, he developed his interest in stand-up comedy (and banjo!) by practicing and practicing and improving and improving. Then when a break came along, he was clearly ready for it.
A really great framework for thinking about this is that a dream job is almost always something that is “rare & valuable”. The only way to get something rare and valuable is to have something rare and valuable to offer in exchange for that. In the context of jobs/careers/skills, the only way to have something rare and valuable is to develop it by doing it a lot and constantly seeking to improve how you do this thing.
The cool thing is that developing such skills gives you more control, satisfaction, and options to do really great things that you care about in the world.
That is it for my 5 minute review. I worry that I make the book sound no more interesting than someone saying, “work hard and you’ll do well. But please, read this book.