Waiting for ideal conditions may be a bad excuse… or not

Maria Popova, on the The Daily Routines of Famous Writers:

A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word on paper

This applies not only to writers. Waiting for ideal conditions can be a an excuse for not facing a problem, making a decission, or just getting to work. But is this always the case? (For example, if you are planning leaving your job to start your own business, guts may not be the only ‘condition’ required.)

Cal Newport, in his book So Good they can’t ignore you_1 defines the term _carrer capital as the set of rare and valuable skills you have as a professional. He explains that work can be divided in two kinds of carrer capital markets:

  • There are jobs where only one type of carrer capital is important, and lots of different people are competing for it. Its a winner-take-all market. Writing is such a market, because your ability to write is the skill that matters.
  • There are other jobs in which there are many different types of carrer capital. A variety of relevant skills are needed to be at least competent in this area of expertise. Newport calls this market an auction market.

It is crucial to know what capital market your are in, and which skills are critical or not in the kind of work you do. If you are really good at what you currently do –among the best in your current job, or in your department—, then chances are you already have the basic set of skills that enables you to acquire the relevant ones to succeed in other fields. If this is the case, then waiting for ideal conditions is just a bad excuse for your fear.

  1. Cal Newport, So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love

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