Author: Steven Pressfield
Published in: 2012
The follow-up to his bestseller The War of Art, Turning Pro navigates the passage from the amateur life to a professional practice.
Turning pro is free, but it’s not easy. When we turn pro, we give up a life that we may have become extremely comfortable with. We give up a self that we have come to identify with and to call our own.
Turning pro is free, but it demands sacrifice. The passage from amateur to professional is often achieved via an interior odyssey whose trials are survived only at great cost, emotionally, psychologically and spiritually. We pass through a membrane when we turn pro. It's messy and it's scary. We tread in blood when we turn pro.
What we get when we turn pro. What we get when we turn pro is we find our power. We find our will and our voice and we find our self-respect. We become who we always were but had, until then, been afraid to embrace and live out.
Takeaway #1: Most amateurs live in a shadow career
A shadow career is a career that we are doing that doesn’t resonate with our true calling. Most of us have this to show to others and our self that we are doing something, that we have a job. If we have a shadow career we don’t care if we fail at it, because it doesn’t mean anything to us than it pays the bills. When this career is good to have to be able to have money to start, having a shadow career is dangerous to have in a long run. It will take us away on our true calling and eventually it will make us unhappy and unfulfilled in life.
Takeaway #2: An amateur always thinks about the result and consequences of his action that it paralyzes him/her to do the work
There are many times when we don’t start or do the work because we are afraid to fail or we will be laughed at by other people; that is an amateur’s mindset. Keep worrying about the results and the consequences will paralyze us to not the do the art we are supposed to make. It is one of the reasons why an amateur doesn’t turn into a pro.
“The sure sign of an amateur is he has a million plans and they all start tomorrow.”
Takeaway #3: To be a pro means you’ll be faced with many uncomfortable moments
When you decide to become pro in what you do, you always push yourself on things that you’re not comfortable at. You work harder and you develop skills that are not inherent in your system. That is why it is inevitable to feel uncomfortable. Being a pro means going out in your comfort zone and every day challenging yourself.
Takeaway #4: Life gets simpler ones we turn pro
Acknowledging what we are meant to do means doing only the work necessary to get to where you really want to be in life. If we turn pro, we could now be able to identify our secret dream that we’ve been putting off for many years. We start to take action every day to the things that align with our true calling or mission. We don’t take shadow career anymore.
Takeaway #5: When we turn pro we stop running from our fears
What differentiates a pro from an amateur is they face their fears. The more we become pro in what we do the more responsibility we will have but we take it, we take the challenge and we become better in our craft. A professional always show up and always finish what needs to be done.
Takeaway #6: Your daily routine and people around you will change once you turn pro
Once you decide to become a pro, you decide to take more work; you decide to find more interesting people, it also means you are ready to change your daily routine to fit it in your mission. These may mean not going out on Friday night because you need to finish your song or you can’t be able to attend your friend’s wedding because you are attending this important workshop. Some people might stop talking to you because you don’t hang out that much as you were before.
Being pro means having to choose between the life we want for our future and the life we have left behind.
Takeaway #7: Being a pro has two rewards: the conventional rewards and psychological rewards
Once you do what you are meant to do you have 2 rewards; first is the conventional rewards. These are the money, fame, applause, recognition, everything that people can see and mostly wants. Sure, these things are great to have but the thing is most of us can’t. That is why many people quit.
Then there is the psychological reward. The work itself is a joy for us. We love the process. We love the grind. And we love the people we work with. We love the result even if people don’t appreciate it. The art of doing it is already giving us so many rewards that we less care about conventional rewards. This is the reason why few people still pursue their mission even though they are broke or humiliated by other people.
Takeaway #8: Resistance hates concentration and depth
One of the reasons why many people don’t want to pursue their life’s calling is because of the resistance. The concentration you need to write that first draft of your book or going in depth with your material. The work we need to produce art or business takes a lot of time and energy and emotional breakdown. The hardest part is, there is no guarantee that we will be compensated or someone will even notice. So that is why many people most likely to stick to a shadow career than a real career.
Takeaway #9: Refine your skills to support your instinct
All of us want to become a pro but dreaming about it is not enough, we need to experience different things to become a pro. We’ve got to learn from others and we need to be reflective on what we want our art to look like. We need to improve many skills so that we can give life with our great ideas. An idea is useless if we don’t take action and test it.
Takeaway #10: Be the hero of your art
Being a hero of our art means we are brave enough to struggle, to suffer, and to bring our art to life. We take the risk to follow our own curiosity. Following our calling is like going to war, many will try to kill you and your art, many won’t understand why we are even doing it but we still fight. Life is short to not do the things that we are meant to do. Life is short to not be your own hero.