Cal Newport wrote a great book called So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love. In the book he shares the following story of how he came up with the title:
“In a 2007 episode of the Charlie Rose show, Rose was interviewing the actor and comedian Steve Martin about his memoir Born Standing Up. They talked about the realities of Martin’s rise. In the last five minutes of the interview, Rose asks Martin his advice for aspiring performers.
“Nobody ever takes note of [my advice], because it’s not the answer they wanted to hear,” Martin said. “What they want to hear is ‘Here’s how you get an agent, here’s how you write a script,’ . . . but I always say, ‘Be so good they can’t ignore you.’ “
Be so good they can’t ignore you is great advice if:
- You are working to get a position as a trainer in your agency.
- You are a trainer in your agency.
- You have your own training company.
- You are striving to get promoted.
- You want to be successful in life.
Too many of us have been told, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” Or “If you want to get ahead you need to become great at networking.” As a result we have all seen people who spend all their time networking or posting all their “great work” on LinkedIn so the boss will notice instead of doing the work they are getting paid to do and doing the hard work of self improvement.
“Worry not who knows of you; seek to be worth knowing.”
Long before the invention of the Internet and social media, Confucius recognized the same thing as Steve Martin and Cal Newport. If you put your head down and do the work to become so good they can’t ignore you then doors will open for the right reasons. People who are all flash and no substance will be exposed as a poser very quickly. Training, leadership and life are all too important to settle for being a poser.
“Success is not to be pursued; it is to be attracted by the person you become.
Become who you are capable of. Strive to be so good they can’t ignore you. That will piss some people off, but that is ok. Embrace the old nautical saying, “Hold fast. Stay True.”
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