Rare and Valuable Skills

In Cal Newport’s book “So Good They Can’t Ignore You,” Newport argues that to become world class in a field, it is necessary to dedicate relatively more hours of deep work to the relevant skills than others. Young people who believe they need only “follow their passion and they will find a job where they’ll never have to work a day in their life” get the causality exactly backwards. Newport’s news is that the successful among us have, at some point in their past, regularly engaged in deep work and developed rare and valuable skills, which they later leveraged to gain access to a career and life about which they are passionate.*

This has led me to think more about the deep work I want to do over the course of my career as a math and science teacher. This is what I have so far.

Rare and Valuable Skills

Some related links:

RSA Animate version of Dan Pink’s, “Drive” talk.

Cal Newport’s “Follow your passion is bad advice” talk.

Newport’s blog



* These passion-filled careers are, presumably, enjoyable precisely because the professionals engaged in them are able to compound the return on their skill sets by doing more deep work which had helped them succeed in the first place. No wonder they feel a high degree of satisfaction given the role autonomy, purpose and mastery play in motivation.

I am a math and science teacher at a boarding school in Delaware.

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Posted in Deep work
One comment on “Rare and Valuable Skills
  1. […] or I can offer students a classroom where they take the lead in making curriculum decisions: they can choose the skills they wish to master and have a voice in deciding when they have achieved …. For the immediate future, while I can continue to have the freedom to do so, I have chosen the […]

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