Don’t Follow Your Passion, Do Less to Achieve More and The Magic of the Failed-Simulation Effect

For the few readers who don’t already know, one of my favorite bloggers is Cal Newport. Cal just published a new book which tackles the question of what does it take to be remarkably successful and still have a remarkably enjoyable life.

I recently had a spoke with Cal talking about ideas such as:

  • Why following your passions can be a trap
  • The power of the “failed-simulation effect” in allowing remarkable accomplishments without agonizing effort.
  • How doing less in an unusual way will actually achieve more

I recorded the conversation and you can listen to it here. It’s a bit over thirty minutes, but if you’ve enjoyed my latest articles about the pursuit of the ideal life and some of the unconventional strategies to reach it, I think it’s well worth the listening time.

Click here to download or listen to the full conversation.

Notes on the Conversation

Here are my notes from the conversation which you can also use as a guide when listening:

0:00 – I introduce Cal and his new book
3:05 – Cal and I discuss the “superstar” effect and how it impacts your life
5:20 – What counter signaling is, and why putting club president on your resume might make you look worse
7:15 – Why the rules of success change when your goal is to be world class
11:00 – We explain what the failed-simulation effect is, why it works (and why it’s underused)
19:00 – Cal attacks the dominant ideology that you need to “find your passion”
21:30 – Don’t follow your passion—build one in a field where you can win
23:30 – Take advantage of poorly defined competitive structures
25:10 – What the research actually says on how people find passions
28:00 – How to achieve more while doing way less work
31:20 – Being best in the class versus being best in the world
33:40 – Cal’s advice on being incredibly impressive (hint: it’s not by suffering now to win later)

How to Become a High-School Superstar

I highly recommend getting Cal’s book, where he goes into way more detail on his research into what makes people stand out and achieve more. You can pick up a copy here, and definitely check out Cal’s blog StudyHacks.