December 17, 2012

News & Opinion: The 800-CEO-READ Business Book Awards, Personal Development

By: Dylan Schleicher @ 5:06 PM – Filed under: Management & Workplace Culture

Our founder and president, Jack Covert, recently told Andrew Hill of The Financial Times that business books, “in their core and their soul, are self-help books, where people go to make their company better, to make their job better.” And while that may be true of business books in general, there are many that are very specifically directed at Personal Development. This year, the best of those was Cal Newport's So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love from Business Plus.

“The passion hypothesis is not just wrong, it’s also dangerous. Telling someone to ‘follow their passion’ is not just an act of innocent optimism, but potentially the foundation for a career riddled with confusion and angst.”
So Good They Can’t Ignore You, page 24

Career advice of the “Do what you love” variety is usually followed up with a “bust out of your cubicle, sacrifice all, and follow your passion” anecdote of success. It’s the kind of advice that gets people who aren’t excited about their work to get excited about, well, doing anything but what they are doing. Cal Newport takes a different angle to finding fulfilling work, advising instead that passion is an unreliable advisor, and people actually long for and are fulfilled by becoming really, really good at something. Newport’s advocacy of “using the craftsman mindset to generate fantastic livelihoods” offers a refreshing and realistic alternative route to finding work you love.

To see the runners-up, check out our Innovation & Creativity shortlist.

About Dylan Schleicher

Dylan Schleicher has been a part of the 800-CEO-READ claque since 2003. Even though he's stayed on at the company, he has not stayed put. After beginning in shipping & receiving, he joined customer service and accounting before moving into his current, highly elliptical orbit of duties overseeing the ChangeThis and In the Books websites, the company's annual review of books and in-house design. He lives with his wife and two children in the Washington Heights neighborhood on Milwaukee's West Side.