Turning Pro By Steven Pressfield

Originally written March 15th, 2021

Title: Turning Pro: Tap Your Inner Power and Create You Life’s Work

Author(s): Steven Pressfield

Topic(s): Personal and Professional Growth

Book Summary: “Turning Pro” is a follow up to “War of Art”, where he speaks about “The Resistance” we all face and being an amateur. In “Turning Pro”, Pressfield does a mini recap of what makes an amateur, the turning point from amateur to pro and what pros do differently. The book is broken down into smaller books to focus on this journey of amateur to pro.

My Key Takeaways:

  • “Shadow Careers” and “Shadow Lives”
My initial reaction to these ideas of Shadow Careers
My initial reaction to these ideas of Shadow Careers

Okay, what the hell is Pressfield is talking about with “Shadow Careers and Lives”? Pressfield says that Shadow Careers and Lives are almost like trial runs of what you really want to do but are too afraid to go after the real thing due to the fear of failure. So you distract yourself with other stuff, say you’re too busy doing other “important” things, instead of doing the thing you really want to do.

This blew my mind.

Why? because I mean, we’ve all done something like this with an interest in our lives. I know I have. We may want to become writer, write some ideas out but never finish that story or manuscript, so it lives in a google doc inside that folder of “Book ideas”, forever in creative purgatory. It’s the faking it without making it.

My IT job for the last 10 years was my shadow career but I didn’t realize it until a few years in. It was a good living but I wasn’t happy or satisfied. I wanted to help people in a more creative way and had some ideas of how I can do that but wasn’t sure how.

Now, I’m on the path that I actually want to do: become a Designer (specifically UX Design). Here, I can blend my different interests such as design, creativity, writing, drawing and coming up with ideas to help people and those I work with.

  • Resistance, Addiction and the difference between the Amateur and the Pro
Freddie Mercury was awesome.
Freddie Mercury was awesome.

The Resistance feeds addiction. Everyone has some sort of addiction, some are worse than others. Some seem innocuous but could be more harmful than we think like social media, endless scrolling or web browsing. The difference is that the amateur lives for the addictions and let themselves stay distracted. This further feeds the shadow life or career and takes them farther away from their true aspirations.

The Pro becomes aware of these distractive addictions and breaks free from them. The energy used from the addiction are turned into habits instead. The addictions are turned outward (selflessness) instead of inward (selfishness). Little by little, the Pro becomes better at what they are striving for.

  • Being a Pro is a matter of perspective and self-awareness
It’s about that transcendence!
It’s about that transcendence!

Being Pro is not only doing certain actions like showing up even when things get tough or practicing mastery in your field, its mainly a shift in perspective and mindset. You have to remind yourself of what a true pro does and goes about things.

Are you applying the knowledge you’ve learned or just withholding knowledge to be the smartest person in the room?

Are you consistently pushing yourself out of your comfort zone so that you can get a little bit better at your craft or skills?

Do you allow yourself to do deep work on whatever task you’re working on instead of allowing distractions hinder your focus?

Think about what a pro in your field does and figure out a plan of how to bridge the gap between where you are now and where you want to be. It won’t always be easy or fun but the reward can be awesome when you get closer to who you really want to become. This is not to say that you have to grind and hustle 24/7 because as we all know, this leads to burnout. You should always put priority to your self-care in whatever way works best for you.

Those were my takeaways from the book, there’s more in the book but I don’t want to spoil it all. You can buy the book here if you’re interested. If you have any thoughts or questions, please feel free to put them in the comments below! Have an awesome day!