In Turning Pro, Steven Pressfield argues for a transition from being an amateur to becoming a professional.
Lately, I cannot stop thinking about this idea.
For me, Pressfield’s call to action is all about taking yourself seriously. It’s also about not giving in to fear.
When writers and artists don’t take themselves seriously, I find that it manifests in the following ways:
- We don’t trust ourselves. We question our own abilities, our capacity to succeed, and we live in fear of failure. We become paralyzed and cannot move forward.
- We don’t acknowledge our strengths. We worry more about what we don’t know and can’t do than the things that we do know and that we do well. This often leads to more paralysis and a feeling of overwhelm.
- We choose not to share our knowledge and skills. Because we’re afraid of what others might think of us, we hold back from sharing the best parts of ourselves, our knowledge, and our skills. We are afraid that we might not be as good as we think.
- We stay small. Because when you stay small, it’s easier not to fail. Rather than take a leap, it’s easiest to stay with the safe ground underneath us. Unfortunately, safe ground impedes growth, creativity, and progress.
Turning pro, and taking yourself seriously, means doing the opposite of these things:
- Trust yourself. Know what you know and can do. Have faith and confidence in yourself and your abilities. If you feel fear, acknowledge it, but don’t let it stop you from moving forward.
- Know your strengths. Take a few minutes and list all of the things that you are really good at. I bet there are a lot of amazing things on that list. Post the list somewhere that you can see it regularly and be reminded of your own expertise, knowledge, and skills.
- Share your knowledge and skills. Be willing to share your gifts of knowledge without being afraid of how others might see you. Have confidence that you can teach and help others with your knowledge and skills.
- Aim big. Big goals produce big results. If failure is the only thing that can go wrong, that’s not a good enough reason not to aim big. By aiming big, we look fear in the face and do our best work anyway.
My new trick when I feel like procrastinating on a project due to fear is to ask myself are you an amateur or a professional?
When I remind myself that I’m a pro, moving forward becomes a lot easier.
To think on:
- What are the situations that make you feel most like an amateur? When do you feel like a pro?
- What books have you read lately that are inspiring you?