To Make Art is to Wage War
If you've ever dealt with fear, anxiety, self-doubt, laziness, or even ADD, The War of Art by Steven Pressfield is a must-read. While there is much to learn from this book, and I'll be sharing some useful tid-bits on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn with #WarofArt, I wanted to distill Pressfield's wisdom into a few of the ideas I found most helpful.
Pressfield introduces us to the term “Resistance.” He labels Resistance as a living, breathing, personified entity. By doing this, he has made Resistance something that can be faced, countered, and defeated.
Resistance is that destructive force inside human nature that rises whenever we consider a tough, long-term course of action that might do for us or others something that's actually good.
Resistance is the enemy of creativity and art. To live the lives we were meant to live, we must go to war with Resistance.
If its important, it will be hard
For me, picking up the controller, turning on the PlayStation, and powering on the TV is easy. It takes very little effort. That's partly because playing video games isn't important (sshh, don't tell my wife I said that!).
The most important things in life will be hard to accomplish. Pressfield writes, “The more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.”
Building relationships, caring for other people, pursuing our dreams, being there with our parents when they're in the hospital – these are all very hard, yet important, things to do.
While pursuing your dreams, if you're facing challenges or staring down a path full of roadblocks, you can be sure that your work is important. You can also be sure it's worth doing.
There are Professionals, there are amateurs
Pressfield explains that he can define his life in two parts – the time before he became a Professional, and after.
The professional tackles the project that will make him stretch. He takes on the assignment that will bear him into uncharted waters, compel him to explore unconscious parts of himself.
There is a difference between a professional and an amateur. A professional gets paid for what he does, an amateur does not.
We're all professionals at something. We're professional nurses, salesmen, copywriters, and IT administrators. We show up, every day, and put in the work.
Amateurs are hobbyists; they show up when the weather is good, when they feel like it, or when their dream seems glamorous.
I want to be a professional and I'm sure you do too. To get there, we have put in the work, every day. Especially when we don't feel like it.
To win, we will have to play hurt
I'm a big fan of Robert Griffin, or, as the NFL world knows him, RGIII. He was drafted by the Redskins shortly after his epic season at Baylor University. His first year as a professional, RGIII led the Redskins to have a fantastic season.
The athlete knows the day will never come when he wakes up pain-free. He has to play hurt
But in the final games, Robert badly injured his knee. However, in typical RGIII fashion, he went back on the field and played hurt. (He even scored a touchdown after receiving a concussion while at Baylor!).
So you're taking a few blows. That's the price for being in the arena and not on the sidelines
You may not sit in the stands and stare down at the field and wish you were playing, but I can guarantee that none of the players wish they were spectators.
Being a professional is tough.
Winning is tough.
To win, we have to play hurt.
Everything great begins with one thing, a decision
All great achievements have two things in common – they began with a decision and they involved other people.
Getting off of the couch and going for a walk starts with a decision.
Writing out a plan to help you live the life you want to live starts with a decision.
Waking up early to get ready for work starts with a decision.
Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, magic, and power in it. Begin it now – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, 18th century German philosopher
All things, both great and small, begin with a decision. The cool thing is, “A whole stream of events issues from the decision.” When we decide to chase our dreams, go after that promotion, or change careers, doors we didn't even know existed start to open for us.
Opportunities will present themselves, but only after we decide to look for them (Tweet that!).
Steven Pressfield's follow-up book, Turning Pro, arrived in the mail this week! If you'd like to read it with me, here is my Amazon affiliate link that will take you directly to where you can pick up a copy. I hope you'll read it with me!
Question: Did you benefit from Pressfield's insights to Resistance and becoming a professional? If you've read his book, what else did you learn? Let's continue the conversation below by clicking here!