Author Cal Newport commented on the difference between shallow work and deep work. Shallow work is the “little administrative and logistical stuff” that will keep you from getting fired. Deep work is “using your skills to create something of value”, and, according to Newport, what gets you promoted.  

I think about the shallow vs. deep dichotomy in other settings as well. I have characterized the performance of some employees as shallow, meaning that they do many things at a surface level, but don’t delve deep into any issue to really resolve it. They are able to keep many balls in the air, but don’t really make an impact with anything.

In the sports arena, there is deep passion vs. shallow support. Bowl games bring out shallow fans; those who suddenly favor a certain team that they have not followed all year. Contrast that with true fans, who know the nuances of the team and have rooted for them through thick and thin.  These ‘deep’ fans are the ones who deserve to win tickets to watch the game in person as it really means something to them. 

The same is true for connoisseurs of most any pastime.  There are deep fans of musical theatre, and those who go because someone gave them tickets.  Deep followers of ComicCon and shallow observers. Deep lovers of wine and those who can’t distinguish one Merlot from another.  

We can’t be deep in all areas, but my wish for you in the new year is that you find at least one area in which to do so.  Go deep in something, and embrace the thrills and heartache that such investment brings.

— beth triplett

Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport
Good summary at:

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