Turning Pro – by Steven Pressfield
Date read: 7/2/19. Recommendation: 7/10.
A solid follow-up to Pressfield’s earlier book, The War of Art. Short, concise, and relevant for any artist or entrepreneur. Highlights the difference between amateurs and professionals, and what it takes to reach the top of your craft. Pressfield discusses shadow careers, the power of concentration, navigating fear, and standing on your own. He also emphasizes that habits are the primary difference between amateurs and professionals. Professionals have better habits that help them simplify life.
See my notes below or Amazon for details and reviews.
Shadow Careers vs. Your Calling
Shadow career = metaphor for real career. Shape is similar but entails no real risk. No skin in the game. No consequences.
Pressfield’s version was driving trucks instead of writing…took pride in it, felt powerful + manly, the work was interesting, romance of being on the road.
Power of Habits
Habits are the primary difference between amateurs and professionals.
Professionals have better habits that help them simplify life.
“The Zen monk, the artist, the entrepreneur often lead lives so plain they’re practically invisible.” SP
Pros face just as much fear, but structure their day to confront and overcome it.
To overcome resistance, you need concentration and depth.
If you’re shallow and unfocused, you’ll never make it out.
The draw to failure or trouble is so strong because its incapacitating, let’s you off the hook.
What you’re must afraid of is what you must do.
Signs of an Amateur
Fear dictates decisions (fear of being different or rejected leads to inauthenticity, fear of solitude and silence).
Avoid resistance through drama, denial, distraction.
To combat this, you need self-awareness.
Signs of a Professional
Seek wisdom and instruction from masters without surrendering self-sovereignty.
Doesn’t sit around waiting for inspiration, acts in anticipation. Orderly, workmanlike in habits and routine.
Trusts and examines the mystery. “The place we write from (or paint from or compose from or innovate from) is far deeper than our personal egos. That place is beyond intellect. It is deeper than rational thought.” SP
“The best pages I’ve ever written are pages I can’t remember writing.” SP
Life is a Single Player Game
There is no tribe. The artist and the entrepreneur enter the arena alone.
“In the hero’s journey, the wanderer returns home after years of exile, struggle, and suffering. He brings a gift for the people. The gift arises from what the hero has seen, what he has endured, what he has learned. But the gift is not that raw material alone. It is the ore refined into gold by the hero / wanderer / artist’s skilled and loving hands.” SP