The upshot of this straightforward and challenging book is simple: Garner skills that are valuable and income producing, become good enough at them they you can in fact, produce income with them, and then watch the passion for your work increase. This totally flies in the face of the "follow you passion and the money will follow" philosophy. In fact, that's the main apologetic of this book. Thomas is taking on the life-style designers, unschoolers and a host of others.
And I am loving it. I cut my educational teeth on the likes of John Holt, the Colfax's and Grace Llewellyn. And while they were talking about affording your kids the time and energy to build skills, cut out the extraneous carp of government school and give your kids a unique personalized education, unschoolers have morphed that philosophy into anything (including nothing) goes. I loathe that unschooling has come to mean what it has.
There has also been a bevy of articles on education in the WSJ and others that talk about the high cost of higher ed, how those with B.A.'s in Humanities are graduating with 10's of 1000's of $ worth of debt, without any, really, truly, marketable skills. They were following their passions. They didn't count the cost.
Part of what happened, imho, is that our educational system (regardless of whether you are government, private or homeshooled) has gotten long on interest and short on skills. Which is what I love about classical education. It's all about skill building, to the point of excellence. And in some ways, it flies in the face of the delight directed, passion hypothesis mentality. Not popular among the unschoolers, or a lot homeschoolers, of today. But, let's all get real. It's a global market, people, and folks without few skills and lots of entitlement issues are going to have a rough time of it.
Newport makes great points, "Compelling careers often have complex origins that reject the simple idea that all you have to do is follow your passion." Uh-huh. I love the story about Steve "Zen" Jobs at the beginning of the book. While Jobs seems to be advocating the passion hypothesis, he didn't actually follow it himself. Way to keep the proletariet's down.
Here's more, uh-huh, food for thought; "deliberate practice is often the opposite of enjoyable." I've gotten somewhat good at a few things. Not all of it's been fun. During the upward hill of the learning curve, it actually pretty much s8cked. We just don't want to acknowledge that amongst friends. We want learning to be easy, enjoyable and about having a good time. Dr. Dh has 3 earned grad degrees. Only one of them was really "fun" and the joy of that was diminished by the full time job of the other degrees, managing a family, and working at a break-neck pace while pursuing it all. That's what professionalism is...working your arse off to have specialized skills at something that might not be attainable to your average Joe. We seem to forget that. Well, I haven't and neither has Dr. Dh. I think we both still suffer a bit from educational, skill building and student loan battle fatigue.
More goodness- Be patient; Steve Martin explains his philosophy for learning to play the banjo: "I thought if I stayed with it , then one day I will have been playing for 40 years and anyone who sticks with something for forty years will be pretty good at it." Yeah, baby. Practice makes perfect. And focus does too- Martin redefines diligence so that's it's less about paying attention to your main pursuit and more about your willingness to ignore other pursuits that would distract you.
Career capital- you have to get good before you can expect good work. The entitlement ethic gives way, in the face of pragmatic real life, to a work ethic.
The law of financial viability- do what people are willing to pay for. Love this. The B.A. in Brit Lit who owes $100, 000 with somehow forgot this little nugget. Not that the cost of college isn't crazy. I get that. Believe me, I totally get that.
There's a lot more in Newport's book, including a whole list of vocab, which I've posted separately here.
But the bottom line:
Get skills, skills that are financially viable, get focused, be diligent-
and the passion will follow.