James T. Green is a conceptual artist, radio producer, writer, and educator from Chicago, Illinois, and now in Brooklyn, New York.

thoughts + feelings

06: The Craftsman and Passion Mindset

I was delighted to hear many responses from last week's question on what our word of the year would be. When we share our goals, it helps us all grow. Here were some of my favorites.

Rhonda Mitchell told me that her word was Consistency.

"...in my life CONSISTENCY is my key. I’ve been trying to figure out what is missing between my dreams and making them pop into reality and I do believe it is me being consistent with all that I do."

Bouncing off Consistency, Deanna Mingo had a word in that same family: Execution.

"I’m changing the way I work and create goals with the end result more clearly in mind. I’m hoping to increase my motivation and follow-through by keeping my eye on what has to happen."

Execution and discipline work hand-in-hand, which happened to be Jayson Shenk's word for this year.

"I have a lot of things I want to do an I’ve realized that there are some lifestyle changes that I’m going to have make myself do. Diet, exercise, more sleep, just things that are easy to ignore, I have to develop the discipline to keep up with."

With many great words being shared, Jessica Jacobs' word stuck with me the most.

"...PRACTICE, in all its meanings: To do something again and again in order to become better at it. To do (something) regularly or constantly as an ordinary part of your life. To live according to the customs and teachings of."

I love hearing about the importance of practice. It's one of the hardest and necessary parts of making good work, but also the toughest and least glamorous. There's been a rise in entrepreneurial mush making the rounds with grand statements such as: "follow your passion and the rest will follow." I disagree heavily.

I'm currently reading this book, So Good They Can't Ignore You by Cal Newport, which is all about why skills triumph passion in the workplace. It's refreshing because it not only debunks the whole "follow your passion" advice, but explains the counterpoints in immense detail, which tickles my geek needs perfectly. There was a certain part in the book that stuck to me, called "The Craftsman Mindset vs. The Passion Mindset."

According to Cal Newport, the craftsman mindset "focuses on what you can offer the world" and the passion mindset "focuses on what the world can offer you." The former is built upon the importance of consistent practice and developing your skills to do the work you want to do, while the latter believes that once you find what you love to do, you will magically succeed at it. Sadly, the passion mindset is force fed at virtually every conference, book, podcast, and form of media you can think of. It's practically the Shake Weight of the working process: promises of quick and satisfying results, with little time and effort.

Ira Glass, when asked about practice, stated that “the key thing is to force yourself through the work, force the skills to come; that’s the hardest phase.” Practice is one of the grittiest, but most important parts of making meaningful work. Is there anything that you are looking to practice at this week? This month? This year? I know I want to get better at video editing and Objective-C for app development. I'd love to hear what you are practicing for. Just hit reply.

Thanks for reading and see you next week,

-James


What did I find interesting this week?

1) Traveling While Black: Farai Chideya discuss what it's like for present day international travel as a black woman.
2) The Intrinsic Value of Blogging: Matt Mullenweg on the importance of clarity and audience in writing and editing.
3) The Dangerous Rise of “Entrepreneurship Porn”: Morra Aarons-Mele says why the rise in Entrepreneur Media is a problem.
4) 2013: The Year According To Martine Syms: A solid reading list from talented LA-based artist and designer, Martine Syms.

James T. Green