I read Steven Pressfield’s latest book, Turning Pro: Tap Your Inner Power and Create Your Life’s Work, for the first time this past weekend. I say that it’s the first time because, much like his earlier book The War of Art, this is one that I can already tell that I’ll be coming back to time and time again.
In The War of Art, Pressfield introduces the concept of Resistance as the thing that all creatives fight against when we try to focus on our work. The primary way to overcome Resistance is to turn pro (as opposed to being an amateur). While he talks a little bit about what it means to turn pro in The War of Art, there is much that is left unsaid about how to make this step from being an amateur into the ranks of being a pro.
This book continues those same themes but the focus is really on how to go from being an amateur to being a professional in life. The book is divided into three distinct parts. Book one, The Amateur Life, describes the way an amateur lives and works. It details the attitudes and patterns that an amateur brings to all that he does.
Book two, Self-Inflicted Wounds, focuses on the way that the amateur self-sabotages himself and keeps himself from living up to his potential. The section also begins the exploration of the kinds of things that cause us to be willing to give up the life of the amateur and take that courageous step into doing the work to turn pro.
Book three, The Professional Mindset, explores the way that a professional approaches his life and work. The discipline, habits, and commitment described in this section mark a clear contrast to the amateur way of living described in the first section.
One of the things I love most about this book is that this journey from being an amateur to becoming a professional is a journey that applies to every one of us in every area of our lives. Although he writes this as a writer and describes his journey of turning pro in those terms, he makes it equally clear that this applies to any work we are called to do, as artists, musicians, entrepreneurs, counselors, ministers, business people, etc. It also applies to how we live our lives in our relationships, our responsibilities, our spiritual walks.
No matter what it is we want to accomplish in life—personally or professionally—the choice to act like a professional instead of an amateur is what is needed to achieve our goals.
Each chapter in this book is short—often no more than one or two pages long—but despite the ease of reading, the concepts here are profound. Sometimes the shortest chapters make the deepest impressions with the clarity and simplicity in which they expose the truth.
I highly recommend both of these books to anyone who feels stuck and is wanting to make a leap to the next level in achieving their goals. Be prepared to read both of them more than once. And be prepared for them to change your life. Once you recognize Resistance and amateur ways of living, it will be hard not to begin making that transition to turning pro. The journey is challenging, but he makes it too simple to have any more excuses to not move forward.
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