Raise Skills, not Follow Passion

It’s a review article for Cal Newport’s speech “Follow your passion” is bad advice. He urged that we, the youngsters, should raise skills instead of following passion and gave us three techniques to apply to systematically raise our skills.

Don’t tell people to follow their passion

Steve Job said to follow your passion, but Cal Newport thought telling the young to follow their passion “reduce the probability they end up passionate[.]” He argued that Steve Job himself didn’t follow his passion according to Job’s biography. He raised an writer for example to illustrate how to end up loving our working life.

Skill is King

The first point he gave is “skill.” It’s the rare and valuable skills that make people end up with happy working life. Moreover, the correlation between achieving a lot and high level of passion can’t simply be

but it’s because the passion grows as your skill grows—there is the “snowball” effect. The start point crucial for pre-passion which boosts a lot more passion later. To achieve the rare and valuable skill, he provides three technique to apply.

Three technique to apply

The first technique is to schedule the time block at the beginning of the day for yourself to follow without thinking about it. What’s more, scheduling is necessary for deep work.

The second technique is to build artifacts for you to examine the output of your valuable time of working.

The third technique is to increase your ability to focus at the rate 10 minutes per 10 successful terms, e.g., start from 30 minutes, succeed, and increase to 40 minutes, etc.


  1. Systematically grow your skill and you’ll find your passion grows as your skill grows.
  2. Use the three technique to systematically grow your skill:
    1. Schedule the time block;
    2. Build artifacts (作品) as your outcome to examine your quality of working;
    3. Increase the ability to focus 10 mins per 10 successful terms.

My personal action triggered by this article

Ensure there is an artifact for every project as the output to examine.

My personal comments

Besides building artifacts, it’s helpful to present them to a community where others can provide ideas and senses of caring, achieving, and gathering. As for the increase of focusing, I consider it unnecessary given the pomodoro technique and the ability to break down projects into small actions which are doable in 25 minutes.


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