Pressfield on the Amateur Qualities, Part 1

In his book, Turning Pro, Steven Pressfield teaches us how to navigate the passage from the amateur life to professional practice.

These are my takeaways from reading the book.

The amateur is terrified.

Fear is the main driving force behind many actions of the amateurs. The amateur experiences fear of failure, fear of success, fear of looking foolish, fear of under-achieving, fear of over-achieving, fear of poverty, fear of loneliness, and so on.

The amateur fears being excluded from the tribe the most. We fear that, if we must live up to who we are and what we are truly capable of, our tribe might view us as phony and kick us out into the cold to die.

The professional is just as terrified as the amateur, perhaps more so because the professional is more acutely conscious of herself and her interior universe. The difference is that the professional show courage and dance with fear.

The amateur is an egotist.

The amateur identifies with his ego, and he holds a world view of everything being hierarchical. The amateur is always conscious of his status, constantly feeling self-inflated or desperately anxious when things go or do not go his way.

The amateur competes with others and believes that he cannot rise unless a competitor fall. The amateur’s ego tells him that he is operating in a zero-sum game world.

The amateur lives by the opinions of others.

Although the amateur’s identity is deeply seated in his ego, that ego is so weak that the amateur allows others to define his identity and worth. The amateur craves third-party validation, and the perceived role, as he believes others have defined and approved for him, imprisons him.

The amateur permits fear to stop him from acting.

Because the amateur believes that the outside world needs to validate his actions, he takes himself and the consequences of his actions so seriously that he paralyzes himself. The amateur fears being different from others and thus, possibly, violating the expectations of the tribe.

Without whose acceptance and approval, the amateur believes, he cannot survive. Instead, he chooses not to act and wait to be told what to do.