Author: Steven Pressfield
Do The Work is a short and sweet (not true) book that every artist should read. The book points out the Resistance all of us face in the journey of becoming a pro, and then how to push through it and ultimately strive.
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Other mentions of the book and/or the author
My Reading Notes
Where butts need to be kicked, we shall kick them. Where kinder, gentler methods are called for, we’ll get out the kid gloves.
Any act that rejects immediate gratification in favor of long-term growth, health, or integrity. Or expressed another way, any act that derives from our higher nature instead of our lower. Any of these acts will elicit Resistance.
Resistance is a repelling force. It’s negative. Its aim is to shove us away, distract us, prevent us from doing our work.
Rule of thumb: The more important a call or action is to our soul’s evolution, the more Resistance we will feel toward pursuing it.
Next to Resistance, rational thought is the artist or entrepreneur’s worst enemy.
Bad things happen when we employ rational thought because rational thought comes from the ego.
Instead, we want to work from the Self, that is, from instinct and intuition, from the unconscious.
The problem with friends and family is that they know us as we are. They are invested in maintaining us as we are, while the last thing we want is to remain as we are.
Ignorance and arrogance are the artist and entrepreneur’s indispensable allies. She must be clueless enough to have no idea how difficult her enterprise is going to be—and cocky enough to believe she can pull it off anyway.
A child has no trouble believing the unbelievable, nor does the genius or the madman. It’s only you and I, with our big brains and our tiny hearts, who doubt and overthink and hesitate. Don’t think. Act.
We can always revise and revisit once we’ve acted. But we can accomplish nothing until we act. Start before you’re ready.
When we conquer our fears, we discover a boundless, bottomless, inexhaustible well of passion.
Remember, our enemy is not lack of preparation; it’s not the difficulty of the project or the state of the marketplace or the emptiness of our bank account. The enemy is our chattering brain, which, if we give it so much as a nanosecond, will start producing excuses, alibis, transparent self-justifications, and a million reasons why we can’t/shouldn’t/won’t do what we know we need to do.
If you’re writing a movie, solve the climax first. If you’re opening a restaurant, begin with the experience you want the diner to have when she walks in and enjoys a meal. If you’re preparing a seduction, determine the state of mind you want the process of romancing to bring your lover to. Figure out where you want to go; then work backward from there.
We can never eliminate Resistance. It will never go away. But we can outsmart it, and we can enlist allies that are as powerful as it is.
Research can be fun. It can be seductive. That’s its danger. We need it, we love it. But we must never forget that research can become Resistance.
Only one thing matters in this initial draft: get SOMETHING done, however flawed or imperfect.
You are not allowed to judge yourself.
Ideas come according to their own logic. That logic is not rational. It’s not linear. We may get the middle before we get the end. We may get the end before we get the beginning. Be ready for this. Don’t resist it.
The opposite of fear is love—love of the challenge, love of the work, the pure joyous passion to take a shot at our dream and see if we can pull it off.
The only items you get to keep are love for the work, will to finish, and passion to serve the ethical, creative Muse.
Crashes are hell, but in the end, they’re good for us. A crash means we have failed. We gave it everything we had and we came up short. A crash does not mean we are losers. A crash means we have to grow.
A professional does not take success or failure personally.
That our project has crashed is not a reflection of our worth as human beings. It’s just a mistake. It’s a problem—and a problem can be solved.
No matter how great a writer, artist, or entrepreneur, he is a mortal, he is fallible. He is not proof against Resistance. He will drop the ball; he will crash.
Finishing is a critical part of any project. If we can’t finish, all our work is for nothing.
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frighten us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?
You’re where you wanted to be, aren’t you? So you’re taking a few blows. That’s the price for being in the arena and not on the sidelines. Stop complaining and be grateful.