February 21, 2023
Steven’s Pressfield’s first publishing deal arrived after 27 years. Turning Pro conveys his wisdom on purpose, motivation, grit, and creativity.
Steven Pressfield spent a few decades procrastinating.
Another one or two writing crap.
His first publishing deal arrived after 27 years of work.
He then wrote 19 books that sold millions of copies.
The guy knows about persistence and what he calls beating “Resistance.”
Turning Pro conveys his wisdom on purpose, motivation, grit, and creativity.
About fooling yourself:
Are you pursuing a shadow career? Are you getting your Ph.D. in Elizabethan studies because you're afraid to write the tragedies and comedies that you know you have inside you? Are you living the drugs-and-booze half of the musician's life, without actually writing the music? Are you working in a support capacity for an innovator because you're afraid to risk becoming an innovator yourself? If you're dissatisfied with your current life, ask yourself what your current life is a metaphor for. That metaphor will point you toward your true calling.
About beating Resistance:
Resistance hates two qualities above all others: concentration and depth. Why? Because when we work with focus and we work deep, we succeed… Resistance wants to keep us shallow and unfocused. So it makes the superficial and the vain intoxicating. Have you checked your e-mail in the last half hour? When you sit down to do your work, do you leave your web connection on? It can be fatal, keeping up with the Kardashians.
About trusting The Process:
Tenets for days when Resistance is really strong:
1. Take what you can get and stay patient. The defense may crack late in the game.
2. Play for tomorrow. Our role on tough-nut days is to maintain our composure and keep chipping away. We're pros. We're not amateurs. We have patience. We can handle adversity. Tomorrow the defense will give us more, and tomorrow we'll take it. There's a third tenet that underlies the first two:
3. We're in this for the long haul. Our work is a practice. One bad day is nothing to us. Ten bad days are nothing. In the scheme of our lifelong practice, twenty-four hours when we can't gain yardage is only a speed bump. We'll forget it by breakfast tomorrow and be back again, ready to hurl our bodies into the fray.
About how turning pro isn't the moment you make it, but the moment you start doing the work:
It hit me that I had turned a corner. I was okay. I would be okay from here on. Do you understand? I hadn't written anything good. It might be years before I would, if I ever did at all. That didn't matter. What counted was that I had, after years of running from it, actually sat down and done my work.
About how turning pro changes everything:
When we turn pro, everything becomes simple… We plan our activities in order to accomplish an aim. And we bring our will to bear so that we stick to this resolution. This changes our days completely. It changes what time we get up and it changes what time we go to bed. It changes what we do and what we don't do. It changes the activities we engage in and with what attitude we engage in them. It changes what we read and what we eat. It changes the shape of our bodies. When we were amateurs, our life was about drama, about denial, and about distraction… But we are not amateurs any more. We are different, and everyone in our lives sees it.
Going after your calling is scary. It's hard work. It's easy to fool yourself. And it takes a long long time to find success.
Here are Pressfield’s characteristics of a pro:
1. The professional shows up every day
2. The professional stays on the job all day
3. The professional is committed over the long haul
4. For the professional, the stakes are high and real
5. The professional is patient
6. The professional seeks order
7. The professional demystifies
8. The professional acts in the face of fear
9. The professional accepts no excuses
10. The professional plays it as it lays
11. The professional is prepared
12. The professional does not show off
13. The professional dedicates himself to mastering technique
14. The professional does not hesitate to ask for help
15. The professional does not take failure or success personally
16. The professional does not identify with his or her instrument
17. The professional endures adversity
18. The professional self-validates
19. The professional reinvents herself
20. The professional is recognized by other professionals
How are you doing on this list? Have you turned pro yet? And—as Pressfield would surely ask—if not yet, when?
Why not turn pro today? Right now?
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