Monday, June 24, 2013

So Good They Can't Ignore You

Around here we speak alot about having passion, and letting your passion drive you. Well, Cal Newport, author of "So Good They Can't Ignore You" hates that. I mean he haaaates that. He even has a chapter called "DON'T Follow Your Passion".

Instead he believes we need to adopt what he calls the "craftsman mindset". Instead of being passionate about something and then finding some job inside that passion, he instead suggests becoming amazing at a skill, and then finding our passion as we become "so good they can't ignore you."

This makes some sense. We see many people come to us with absolutely no refined skill (yet). They may have some natural talent, but they have not really put years of training, honing, and crafting into their talent yet. Since we are a "consulting" and "teaching" organization at heart, that's fine. But what these folks want to be is seen, heard, and to do great works that feed their passions.

What we all really need to do is work to be better craftsman at what we do, so we CAN follow our passion.

Many of the Christian artists you may hear on the radio or see in concert are there for a reason. They have developed their craft. They might have come to their label with talent, but they have since honed their talents and skills to a point where audiences can't ignore them. They are so good, they can't be ignored!

This is actually very Biblical.

"Then this Daniel became distinguished above all the other presidents and satraps, because an excellent spirit was in him. And the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom." - Daniel 6:3 ESV

"In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven." - Matthew 5:16 ESV

If you are just starting your journey towards using your talents for the Lord, accept that you may have a road before you, working to become the absolute best you can be with your skills. Enjoy the work of improving, learning, growing. Resist the temptation to try and live only in passion and be too much too soon. Just because you want to be amazing, you can't be magically. It takes dedication to the craft, and building of a skill.

If you have been at this awhile, know you must continue to put in the work towards your creative goals and keep working. Your time will come (or God's time will come for you). We all have to wait for the time when the world can no longer ignore what we are doing.

Both of the above paragraphs represent folks we meet and work with everyday in Nashville. We see the talented, the eager, the tired, and those obviously ready to get out there with a talent the world can't ignore.

Passion for music or ministry? Cool. But make sure your skill is where it needs to be in order to make a difference out there. The beauty is, if it's not all you need to do is work at it. We've seen beginning and amateur songwriters become skilled and successful. We've seen limited and untrained singers become pro vocalists and develop their own unique style and audience.

Yes, it takes passion, but it also takes skill. The trick is to have both of them in equal parts.

Have a great week!

Eric Copeland heads up Creative Soul, a Christian music production and consulting company in Nashville, TN. He has been developing his skills since about 1976, and the passion since a tad before then probably. For more info check out

Got a question or comment about passion, skill, and being so good they can't ignore you? Leave a comment below.


  1. Have you ever heard the phrase that says, "One passion, one ministry"? We use it a lot at our church. It has to do with finding that one skill set, and making that your ministry/passion. For me, music has been that passion. And most recently in the last year, great lyric writing has been my focus. I long to work with someone who can help me with my lyric writing that combines faith with relevant mainstream song material that can become great songs that are successful in mainstream radio as well as Christian radio. I can't seem to find anyone in my area who can help me. It seems that as soon as I introduce my faith-based world-view into everything musical (finding musicans to form a band; locating a producer; or even just a writing partner), they shrink away stating that thy don't feel they are the right fit for me...or they somehow feel uncomfortable, as if they have to get their life in order to do "my style" of music. Sorry to go off like that, but I continue to search because my passion is part of what keeps me motivated to improve my craft. I've got my share of people telling me to stop living in a dream world, and stop trying to be a rockstar. I suppose they'll never understand. But I believe passion and skill go hand in hand. I look forward to contacting Creative Soul in the near future. Thanks.

    1. Anonymous8:11 AM

      Good luck... Ive been waiting many yrs and working on my "skills" also. New music flows everyday for me, but I struggle with the lyrics. I flow on the piano, but wish I could write lyrics like the music flows. "We press on" toward that upward call in Christ. Peace!

  2. I agree that passion and skill go hand in hand.

    However as I read the book I may be coming around that skill (or what he calls the "craftsman mindset") must come BEFORE the passion. Yes even in ministry.

    There's a big difference between a guy who loves the Lord and wants to play guitar, versus Phil Keaggy who became a skilled guitarist which he then used for ministry.


  3. Anonymous6:36 AM

    Many, many years ago I was on the road with someone I later realized, raised me on the road and was a very wise man. His statement on this is very simple and yet sums the whole deal up for me. Song-smithing starts when inspiration stops. It doesn't discount either, but uses both.......................Randy,

  4. Anonymous6:44 AM

    Thanks Eric... I appreciate this!

  5. I could take a different thought on this. Let's say that you have a desire to play an instrument because others are doing it and it may you may look good to others because you can play. My point both are necessary but if there is not enough passion will it not hinder your efforts to be a better craftsman. If he set goals to do something and don't have the drive or passion to keep us going we might not go anywhere.


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About the Author

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Eric Copeland is an author, producer, keyboardist, songwriter, and president of Creative Soul Companies. What is Creative Soul? Our main goals are to inform, encourage, and assist Christian creative folks in ministry, no matter where they are in their journey. Thanks for reading! Find out more about us at