Pressfield on the Professional Mindset as a Practice

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.

According to Pressfield, to “have a practice” is to follow a rigorous, prescribed regimen to elevate the mind and the spirit to a higher level. Pressfield also defined the practice as the dedicated, daily exercise of commitment, will, and focused intention aimed, on one level, at the achievement of mastery in a field.

We should consider setting up our practice with the following elements:

A practice has a space

That space is sacred. We want to encourage the qualities of Order, Commitment, Passion, Love, Intensity, Beauty, and Humility when we practice our work of art.

A practice has a time

When we practice our work, we want to approach it via order, commitment and passionate intention. When we do our work daily in the same space at the same time, powerful energy of intention, dedication, and commitment build up around us.

A practice has an intention

Focused practice is the only way to achieving mastery. Our intention as professionals is to get better and to go deeper into our chosen field.

We come to a practice as warriors

Every time the professional enters the practice space, she knows that will be facing a powerful opponent. That powerful opponent is herself, and she will be battling the demon of Resistance all day long.

We come to a practice in humility

We must bring intention and intensity to our practice, but we leave ego and arrogance behind at the entrance of our workspace.

We come to a practice as students

Even after we achieve “mastery” in our field, we are always learning as a student when we come to the practice field.

A practice is lifelong

For a professional, there is no finish line.

Unlike a project, life is a constant pursuit.

Pressfield on the Qualities of the Professional, Part 2

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 professional defers gratification.

The professional recognizes that it is our privilege to wake up every morning and get the opportunity to do our work in the way we hope to shape. The professional also knows that not all work leads to an immediate return in the short-term.

The professional is willing to put forth the work necessary for the much-more-significant long-term benefits.

The professional does not wait for inspiration.

The amateur waits for inspiration to strike to score that one, big idea. The professional knows that, only through hard work and consistent effort, the Muse will pay her a visit.

The professional does not give his power away to others.

The amateur wants to be a team player and waits to be told what to do next by the group leader. The professional appreciates the collaboration with others, and she knows that she needs to continue to do her work with or without outside help.

The professional helps others.

The amateur believes the model of scarcity works for everything we do. The amateur hoards knowledge and ideas; afraid of someone else will rip off their ideas and become successful with them.

The professional believes in the model of abundance; if she shares her ideas with someone, both she and the other person will have the same knowledge and information.

The professional loves to share and teach others of what she knows, but the pro refuses to be iconized. The professional knows sharing is generous while being iconized is an act of selfishness.

Pressfield on the Qualities of the Professional, 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.

A professional is courageous.

When we are merely a cog in a huge system, we can find places to hide. The professional has no such luxury and must face criticism, blame, and indifference from others by herself. The professional must also confront her own doubts and demons from within. The professional must display the courage in embracing the role she has chosen and committed to doing.

The professional will not be distracted.

The professional carries the water, chops wood, and do her work heads-down. The amateur spends time on social media instead.

The professional is ruthless with himself.

The professional is very aware of the standard and the level of excellence his work needs to achieve. More importantly, the professional holds himself accountable for achieving the standard. When his work falls short of that standard of excellence, the professional does not hesitate to call himself out to do better work.

The professional has compassion for herself.

While the professional holds herself to a high standard, she also realizes that the work is not just a serious business alone. The professional takes steps to ensure that she gets the serious work done and feeling fulfilled at the same time.

The profession lives in the present.

The amateur spends more time reliving the past glories or living under the fear of the unknown future. The professional wants none of those distractions and focuses only on the work at hand in the present.

Pressfield on the Effects of Turning Pro

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

These are my takeaways from reading the book.

Pressfield asserted that the main change between before and after turning pro is when we stop running.

Before turning pro, fears and Resistance dominated our life. When we decided to turn pro, we stop fleeing from our fears and turn around to face them.

All of us have that small voice inside our heads telling us what a better version of us could be. Some call that voice, passion, calling, or destiny.

We are also fear of making that voice a reality. We know the effort will not be easy. We will fail many times along the way. In the end, we might not even get to that end destination.

When we turn pro, we decided to listen to that voice and do something about it.

When we turn pro, everything becomes simple. When we were amateurs, we fill our days with distraction, drama, and busy work.

Now we focus our effort and plan our activities to accomplish an aim. Turning pro changes what we do and don’t do.

When we turn pro, it changes who we spend time with or stay away from. Turning pro also means we started to interact with a different set of people.

Those people who get what we are trying to do will cheer us on or even become friends. Those people who do not get what we are trying to do will try to talk us out of it or may even pull themselves away from us.

Pressfield said turning pro is a decision. After we turn pro, we are still the same person but how we go about the rest of our lives changed. Before turning pro, our narrative is that of fear, jealousy, and despair. After turning pro, we strip away our self-delusion and face our Resistance head-on by doing the work we should have been doing all along.

Finally, when we turn pro, our individual reality, humility, and shame all come together to forge the will we need to move forward.

Pressfield on the Amateur Qualities, Part 3

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

These are my takeaways from reading the book.

The amateur lives for the future.

We place much emphasis on getting what we want, as soon as possible and as cheaply as possible. We take on debts to finance our materials needs and confuse the debt as an investment. We look to getting what we want today without doing the hard work or asking the hard questions of why we want something. The amateur love to get what he wants today without paying anything right now.

The amateur lives in the past.

The amateur either looks forward to a hopeful future or spend much time looking backward. The amateur likes to relive the past glory and hope things will go back to the way they were. The past was gone, but the amateur still carries the baggage of the past that is no longer relevant today. By living in the past or the future, the amateur avoids doing the hard work that is required in the present.

The amateur will be ready tomorrow.

The amateur has a million plans, and they all start tomorrow. The professional may have only one plan, but she is busy working that plan right now.

The amateur gives his power away to others.

The amateur follows a guru or a mentor. They consider themselves a disciple of the master, and they act only with the master’s permission and blessing. When we wait for the master telling us what to do, we gave away the power to act on our own behalf. When we give away our power and wait to be told, we become a compliant cog, and we give ourselves the excuse we need to hide from the real, hard work.

The amateur is asleep.

The force that can save the amateur is awareness, particularly self-awareness. But to act upon this self-awareness would mean we must define ourselves and how we differentiate from others. When we take a stand to define ourselves, we open ourselves up to the judgment, criticism, and rejection of others. The amateur avoids self-definition and the responsibilities that come with it. They choose to hide by acting as an undifferentiated individual in the herd.

Pressfield on the Amateur Qualities, Part 2

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

These are my takeaways from reading the book.

The amateur is easily distracted.

The work can often involve solitude and silence. The professional leverages the solitude and silence as opportunities to focus and channel her energy onto the work.

The amateur tries to minimize the solitude and silence by getting himself distracted. Engaging in social media and busy work are two favorite activities of the amateur.

The amateur seeks instant gratification.

Most of us look for the low hanging fruits to pick. The professional does the hard work of planting trees to grow the fruits.

The amateur is jealous.

As an amateur, we over-identify our work for ourselves. That means we often take everything that affects our work personally. It also means we often find it difficult to see things through other people’s eyes.

The professional also seeks to make changes with someone or through someone, but the pro practices empathy instead of jealousy. The professional knows that not everyone knows what she knows and not everyone wants what she wants. Different viewpoints are OK by the professional.

The amateur lacks compassion for himself.

In our hearts, we know we are often hiding from being the best we can be. We know we were meant for better things, but we find ways to avoid hard work. Practicing empathy on ourselves and not getting into the self-downward spiral is the first step going from being an amateur to being a professional.

The amateur seeks permission.

The professional knows the responsibilities are taken, not given. The amateur waits for another authority to give him the responsibilities. Without explicit permission, the amateur refuses to take actions, even when it is always his turn all along.

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.

Pressfield on the Definition of Amateur

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.

On the opposite end of the spectrum from the professional is the amateur.

The amateur can be innocent, good-hearted, and well-intentioned.

The amateur can be brave, inventive, and resourceful.

The amateur has noble aspirations and dreams, and he is willing to pay the price to attain those aspirations and dreams.

The amateur seeks liberation and enlightenment. He is trying to learn to level up.

Just as importantly, the amateur is not, evil, crazy, deluded, or demented.

The amateur is all of us before we turn pro.

Pressfield asserted that the difference between an amateur and a professional is in their habits.

The human being is a creature of habit, so we can never free ourselves from habits. But we can replace the less-effective, amateur habits with the more-effective, professional habits.

We must trade in the addictive ineffectiveness of the amateur for the committed practice of the professional.