The War of Art & Turning Pro [Book Review]

The War of Art

Resistance.  Your chest tightens up and your level of energy drops just by reading that one word. Resistance is responsible for countless people quitting on their dreams and not doing the work they were born to do. I have to thank Steven Pressfield for conquering his resistance and writing two terrific books, The War of Art & Turning Pro, and for teaching me how to confront my fears when I encounter resistance (which happens often).

Just the thought of writing this article, I was overcome with the question “Who the hell am I to write an article about the accomplished and talented Steven Pressfield?” The answer is a guy who turned pro and is doing what he was born to do, and I am not one to “pull the pin” anymore. In Turning Pro, Steven learned this term from his days as a migrant worker. Pulling the pin referred to pulling a heavy steel pin out of the coupling mechanism to uncouple one train car from the next. The migrant workers who Steven worked with used the term to describe anyone who decided to quit the job. Every time I feel the urge to quit, I have the image in my mind of me going to pull the pin, only to take a step back and hammer the pin even further into the coupling mechanism.

Let’s get back to resistance. Here is a quote from The War of Art on characteristics of resistance:

Resistance cannot be seen, touched, heard, or smelled. But it can be felt. We experience it as an energy field radiating from a work-in potential. It’s a repelling force. It’s negative. It’s aim is to shove us away, distract us, prevent us from doing our work.

Are you paralyzed with fear? Good! That means you are on the right track. You have just been shown what you need to do. It’s time for you to stretch out of your comfort zone and attack the fear. I felt like throwing up when my partner, Jake, asked me if we wanted to start a podcast. I reluctantly said yes, and I still feel resistance, even though we’re six years into the show! But, I know what must be done. The same feeling overcomes me when we put in an offer on a real estate deal, but as I stated earlier, I am not pulling the pin. Resistance can kiss my ass.

Steven goes onto to share more examples of resistance, and how to combat it.  He illustrates the difference between an amateur and a professional. Anyone who has been defeated by resistance is an amateur, and has yet to turn pro. He feels as if the amateur does not love the game enough. In contrast, the pro looks at the game as his vocation, commits to it seven days a week, and sits down to do the work with no excuses. One huge difference between the two is their habits. If you want to become a professional, adopt the successful habits to create success. There are so many qualities that embody a professional, such as:

  • Showing up every day.
  • Showing up no matter what.
  • Focus on the job.
  • Committed long-term.
  • Dedicate ourselves to master the technique of our job.
  • Act in the face of fear.
  • Does not hesitate to ask for help.
  • Recognize our limitations.

Take a good, hard look at that list, and start adopting these traits if you want to conquer Resistance and turn pro.

In Turning Pro, Steven shares the story of when he went pro. He moved from New York City to a small town in Northern California, and proceeded to put in the work. He didn’t talk to anybody for the entire year, no t.v., no radio, no music, and got to work on the book.  The key to this year was that he felt that he was truly productive, and was facing his demons.

I was sitting in my restaurant talking to Jake right before he left to move to Knoxville. I remember telling him that we were going to partner together and build a multifamily business. Looking back, that was a pretty stupid and remarkable statement. Neither one of us knew how or where to start. I turned pro that day, committing to working seventy plus hours for the next several years, I was bouncing between washing dishes in the kitchen, helping my wife homeschool the kids before I left for work, taking down multi million dollar deals, and devouring books in the real estate space. No time for distractions!

When you constantly hear people tell you “Take it easy. You work too hard. You know, life isn’t all about working”. Yeah, right! They aren’t pros. They aren’t obsessed with what they were called to do in life! Hand them a copy of The War of Art, and tell them you’re too busy to talk.

Once again, I want to thank Steven for being completely transparent and sharing his unique journey in life, from his shortcomings to his eventual conquering of his resistance, and ultimately not giving up what he was born to do. It has inspired me to look back upon my life, to share not only my struggles with the Jake & Gino community, but what helped me turn pro.

Don’t fall into the trap of resistance, and tell yourself you’re too busy to read the books, or this doesn’t relate to me.  You’re feeling the pull of resistance, and you need to hear Steven’s words and be reminded constantly on how to break through those blocks and win those inner battles.

Click on these links to become a Steven Pressfield fan:

The War of Art & Turning Pro

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