Notes & Quotes: Turning Pro by Steven Pressfield

The following are my favorite quotes from Steven Pressfield's Turning Pro.
  1. Ambition is the most primal and sacred fundament of our being.  To feel ambition and to act upon it is to embrace the unique calling of our souls.  Not to act upon that ambition is to turn our backs on ourselves and on the reason for our existence.
  2. If you're dissatisfied with your current life, ask yourself what your current life is a metaphor for.
  3. Becoming a pro, in the end, is nothing grander than growing up.
  4. In the shadow life, we live in denial and we act by addiction.
  5. The difference between an amateur and a professional is in their habits.  An amateur has amateur habits.  A professional has professional habits.
  6. When we're living as amateurs, we're running away from our calling -- meaning our work, our destiny, the obligation to become our truest and highest selves.
  7. When you turn pro, your life gets very simple.
  8. Addiction replaces aspiration.  The quick fix wins out over the long, slow haul.
  9. What is our unconscious trying to tell us?
  10. The life we call "normal" isn't normal at all.  A spouse and kids, a mortgage, a 9-to-5 job...who said that was life?  What's so great about working in a factory or in a cubicle?  You and I, who are artists and entrepreneurs, live a life that's closer to natural, if you ask me.  We migrate, too.  We follow the Muse instead of the sun.  When one crop is picked, we hit the road and move on to the next.
  11. All addictions share, among others, two primary qualities. A) They embody repitition without progress. B) They produce incapacity as a payoff.
  12. Stanislavsky's famous three questions: Who am I?  Why am I here?  What do I want?
  13. Resistance hates two qualities above all others: concentration and depth.  Why?  Because when we work with focus and we work deep, we succeed.
  14. If he had the power, the amateur would eat the world -- even knowing that to do so would mean his own extinction.
  15. The amateur prizes shallowness and shuns depth.  The culture of Facebook and Twitter is paradise for the amateur.
  16. The amateur's fear eclipses her compassion for others and for herself.
  17. Consumer culture is designed to exploit the amateur.
  18. My beef with American culture is that almost every aspect, including the deliberations of the legislature and the judiciary, has been debased to pander to the culture of amateurism.  The promise that our products and politicians proffer is the promise one might make to an infant or an addict: "I will get you what you want and it will cost you nothing."
  19. I applaud your story of how you hit bottom, because at the bottom there's no one there but yourself.
  20. When we truly understand that the tribe doesn't give a damn, we're free.  There is no tribe, and there never was.  Our lives are entirely up to us.
  21. When we turn pro, we stop running from our fears.  We turn around and face them.
  22. We will have to choose between the we want for our future and the life we have left behind.
  23. Each day, the professional understands, he will wake up facing the same demons, the same Resistance, the same self-sabotage, the same tendencies to shadow activities and amateurism that he has always faced.  The difference is that now he will not yield to those temptations.  He will have mastered them, and he will continue to master them.
  24. I hadn't written anything good.  It might be years before I would, if I ever did at all.  That didn't matter.  What counted was that I had, after many years of running from it, actually sat down and done my work.
  25. The amateur tweets.  The pro works.
  26. A horse that loves to run will beat a horse that's compelled, every day of the week.
  27. When Stephen Sondheim makes a hat, he is thinking of nothing else.  He is immersed.  He loses himself in the work and in the moment.
  28. Krishna said we have the right to our labor, but not to the fruits of our labor.
  29. We're all nothing without the Muse.  But the pro has learned that the goddess prizes labor and dedication beyond any theatrical seeking of her favors.  The professional does not wait for inspiration; he acts in anticipation of it.
  30. The pro mindset is a discipline that we use to overcome Resistance.  To defeat the self-sabotaging habits of procrastination, self-doubt, susceptibility to distraction, perfectionism, and shallowness, we enlist the self-strengthening habits of order, regularity, discipline, and a constant striving after excellence.
  31. The monk glimpses the face of God not by scaling a peak in the Himalayas, but by sitting still in silence.
  32. In order to achieve "flow," magic, "the zone," we start by being common and ordinary and workmanlike.  We set our palms against the stones in the garden wall and search, search, search until at last, in the instant when we're ready to give up, our fingers fasten upon the secret door.
  33. To "have a practice" in yoga, say, or tai chi, or calligraphy, is to follow a rigorous, prescribed regimen with the intention of elevating the mind and the spirit to a higher level.  A practice implies engagement in a ritual.
  34. The following are aspects of any practice: a practice has space, it has a time, it has an intention.  We come to practice as warriors, we come to practice in humility, we come to practice as students.  A practice is lifelong.
  35. To approach the mystery via order, commitment and passionate intention.  When we convene day upon day in the same space at the same time, a powerful energy builds up around us.  This is the energy of our intention, of our dedication, of our commitment.  The goddess sees this energy and she rewards it.
  36. The real enemy is inside himself.
  37. The epiphany is everything.  When we see the gaping holes in our practice (or discover that we have no practice at all), no one has to school us in time management or resource allocation.
  38. The following are five axioms that I work by every day: work over your head, write what you don't know, take what the defense gives you, play hurt, sit chilly.
  39. Two key tenets for days when Resistance is really strong: 1) Take what you can get and stay patient.  The defense may crack late in the game.  2) Play for tomorrow.
  40. Our role on tough-nut days is to maintain our composure and keep chipping away.  We're pros.  We're not amateurs.  We have patience.  We can handle adversity.  Tomorrow the defense will give us more, and we'll take it.  There's a third tenet that underlies the first two: 3) We're in this for the long haul.
  41. Our work is a practice.  One bad day is nothing to us.  Ten bad days are nothing.
  42. "There's a second self inside you -- an inner, shadow Self.  This self doens't care about you.  It doesn't love you.  It has it's own agenda, and it will kill you.  It will kill you like cancer.  It will kill you to achieve its agenda, which is to prevent you from actualizing your Self, from becoming who you really are.  This shadow self is called, in the Kabbalistic lexicon, the yetzer hara." - Rabbi Mordecai Finley
  43. The hero wanders.  The hero suffers.  The hero returns.  You are that hero.