Turning Pro by Steven Pressfield

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To truly enact our calling means to take our work seriously. It means to leave our amateur mindset behind and raising the stakes. Turning pro demands high sacrifices, but it gifts us with the power of living out our calling.

A Pro works diligently, through a deliberate practice. A Pro works for the sake of doing the work itself because, ultimately, creative work is sacred.

Book Notes

⇾ Turning pro is free, but it demands sacrifice. The passage is often accompanied by an interior odyssey whose trials are survived only at great cost, emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually. We pass through a membrane when we turn pro. It hurts. It’s messy and it’s scary. We tread in blood when we turn pro.

Turning pro is not for everyone. We have to be a little crazy to do it, or even to want to. In many ways the passage chooses us; we don’t choose it. We simply have no alternative. What we get when we turn pro is, we find our power. We find our will and our voice and we find our self-respect. We become who we always were but had, until then, been afraid to embrace and to live out.

⇾ The amateur fears that if he turns pro and lives out his calling, he will have to live up to who he really is and what he is truly capable of. The amateur is terrified that if the tribe should discover who he really is, he will be kicked out into the cold to die.

  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
  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

⇾ The first might be called conventional rewards—money, applause, attention. That kind is fine, if we can get it. The problem for most of us is we can’t. We bust our butts training and practicing and studying and rehearsing and nobody shows up, nobody notices, nobody even knows we exist. No wonder people quit. The struggle requires too much agony for too little payoff.

⇾ That’s the conventional reward. Then there’s the psychological reward. When we do the work for itself alone, our pursuit of a career (or a living or fame or wealth or notoriety) turns into something else, something loftier and nobler, which we may never even have thought about or aspired to at the beginning. It turns into a practice.

Work for the sake of doing the work itself.

Have a practice. Do the work religiously.

⇾ What is a practice anyway? To “have a practice” in yoga, say, or tai chi, or calligraphy, is to follow a rigorous, prescribed regimen with the intention of elevating the mind and the spirit to a higher level. A practice implies engagement in a ritual. A practice may be defined as the dedicated, daily exercise of commitment, will, and focused intention aimed, on one level, at the achievement of mastery in a field but, on a loftier level, intended to produce a communion with a power greater than ourselves—call it whatever you like: God, mind, soul, Self, the Muse, the superconscious. The following are aspects of any practice: a practice has a space, and that space is sacred.

⇾ When we convene day upon day in the same space at the same time, a powerful energy builds up around us. This is the energy of our intention, of our dedication, of our commitment. The goddess sees this energy and she rewards it.

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