The book, “So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work you Love” by Cal Newport focuses on what is called the “craftsman mindset”.
In this article, I will focus on the “craftsman mindset” and how that can benefit you in your career The craftsman’s mindset is all about “what can you offer the world?”
What is a craft?
A craft is something we learn to do in order to solve a complex problem creatively and innovatively. Crafts develop over time and through deliberate practice. When you first start learning to do your craft for example, it can feel impossible and frustrating. However, after you\’ve gained more experience with your craft and practiced it using deliberate practice you\’ll become better at the craft.
I think of Cybersecurity as our craft with different niches. As part of learning the craft, we start with the foundational skills. As you complete that I consider you an apprentice. Then, we start to understand our strengths and weaknesses and we focused our learning on different areas until we get comfortable.
In Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers, he found that it took 10,000 hours (1 year and 51 days) to become an expert in a craft. More recent studies show that knowledge and creative work is upwards of that time.
The moral of the story here is that developing your skills takes time, hard work, and perseverance to get there. I like you want success to happen now and we all have to put your nose down and just work hard at it and adjust when needed.
The Definition of a Craftsman Mindset
A craftsman mindset is a mindset that values the craftsmanship of a task and sees it as an art form. It is characterized by the belief that one\’s work should be done with care, attention to detail, and a sense of pride. And always deliver more than you promise.
Benefits of the Craftsman Mindset
A craftsman is someone who is devoted to their work. They are not afraid to fail and learn from their mistakes, but they also know how to do it right.
Craftsmen are people who take the time to do the job right the first time and care about the quality of their work.
The principle behind a craftsman mindset is that you have a good understanding of your craft and you never settle for mediocrity. You always strive for excellence, no matter what you do or where you go in life. It\’s about having a relentless pursuit of excellence in everything that you do and being willing to put in extra effort when needed.
How to Develop a Craftsman Mindset
It is important to have a craftsman mindset in order to help you get better at your craft. This mindset will allow you to be more productive and creative.
You can develop a craftsman mindset by focusing on the process of what you are doing and the quality of the output. Practice deliberate practice, which means that you must do the same thing over and over again until you get it right. You should also be honest with yourself when looking at your work and output and take criticism well.
Your mindset should be how can I improve from where I am at today. You also need to have metacognition to understand what skills (career capital) you need to develop and invest in to move your business forward. The more you learn the more skilled you will get and the better results you will get overtime. Learning is a continuous process that never ends.
What is Career Capital?
Career Capital is developing traits and skill sets that make you extremely valuable in your work. The characteristics of career capital are as follows:
- Traits of great work are rare and valuable
- Supply and demand for traits that are rare and valuable
- Craftsman mindset focuses on \”becoming so good they can\’t ignore you.\”
In cybersecurity, you need to look beyond skills in policy and more to the cybersecurity operation side that has a defensive and offensive focus. I am arguing that picking up policy skills is easy compared to learning how to stop cybersecurity in the first place. It requires a different level of skill that is hard to find today.
What is rare and valuable?
Newport talks about taking on projects that allow you to grow to differentiate yourself from your peers and continuously work on your traits and skills until you “become so good they can’t ignore you.”
In cybersecurity. focus on getting so good at defensive and offensive cybersecurity skills. It requires deliberate practice and it changes all the time. Hackers adjust strategies and tactics and so you must also. It\’s kind of like a cat and mouse game.
What is the Supply and Demand for your Career Capital?
Along with developing yourself to become rare and valuable, you have to make sure that you are working on traits and skills that are in demand and there is a need for your expertise. It does not do any good to enter a profession/business that cannot use your talents. You will never be able to survive. That is a hard pill to swallow and probably controversial.
What is Deliberate Practice?
To become so good, they can’t ignore you requires deliberate practice. Deliberate practice is a technique that helps people improve their career capital. It usually involves working on a skill with full concentration, feedback, and repetition to achieve mastery. As I mentioned above, learning is a continuous process that never ends.
What are the Traits that Define Great Work?
We are all on the path to finding Great Work. The traits that define great work are as follows:
- Creativity – the ability to be creative and innovative in your work
- Impact – ability to make an impact on the world
- Control – ability to have some control over your work
To be able to get to have these traits for great work, you have to pay your dues, continuously learn and be better than everyone else making sure what you bring is rare and valuable, and in demand. You have to ask yourself – “how do I get there?”.
Everyone is striving for these traits every day and the reason we chose to go down this path. So, the question is
“What cybersecurity skills can you offer the world that is rare and valuable and in-demand?”
We all need to ask this question including myself in our skillsets.
Applying the Craftsman Mindset to your Career
All of our goals in cybersecurity are to strive to get to great work where we have creativity, impact, and control over our lives. That is different for all of us.
The big question for you is – “What cybersecurity skills can your offer the world that is rare and valuable and in-demand?”