“Better to have written a lousy ballet than to have composed no ballet at all.”
– Steven Pressfield
This past Summer, I attended an incredible conference hosted by Pete Mackey and our friends at Mackey Strategies. In addition to bringing home numerous nuggets of wisdom and strategic value to my own day-to-day professional practice, Pete recommended a series of books – all of which I purchased immediately.
Fast forward several months later, and I’ve only had time to read one of them. And yes…it happens to be the shortest. 98 pages to be precise. In fact, unlike most books, this one only took me less than an hour to read.
It was unlike any book I’ve ever read. It actually read more like an inspiring anthem.
In Do The Work, Steven Pressfield addresses the primary obstacle that creators of all types—writers, artists, entrepreneurs—face: Resistance. He describes Resistance as the internal and external forces that prevent individuals from achieving their true potential.
A few key points of summary that I found most useful:
Understanding Resistance: Pressfield posits that Resistance is universal. It’s a force, born out of fear, that manifests every time we consider embarking on a new project, endeavor, or change. It’s the voice in our head discouraging us, distracting us, telling us to give up, or insisting that we’re not good enough.
Start Before You’re Ready: One of Pressfield’s most notable pieces of advice is to begin before you feel prepared. Waiting for the “right moment” or “inspiration” is often another form of Resistance that inhibits progress and creativity.
Stay Committed: Once you start, the key is to stay on the project until it’s finished. Completing tasks creates momentum. Half-finished projects are often where Resistance hits hardest.
Think Big, But Start Small: Dreaming big is vital, but executing those dreams starts with small, actionable steps. Avoid getting bogged down by over-researching or over-planning.
Assistance & Allies: Just as there’s Resistance, there’s also Assistance. When we commit wholeheartedly to a project, the universe conspires to assist us. Recognizing and seeking allies, mentors, or collaborators can be a part of this assistance.
Stay Sovereign: The professional masters his or her craft without becoming emotionally attached to the results. This detachment allows one to weather failures and rejections, learning from them, and continuing to move forward.
Ship It: A key component of doing the work is completing it. Finishing and shipping a product is more valuable than striving for perfection. Resistance grows stronger the closer we get to the finish line, so it’s crucial to push through.
In essence, “Do the Work” serves as a battle plan to combat Resistance and achieve one’s creative and professional goals. By understanding the internal and external forces that often overpower us, we may better equip ourselves to fight procrastination through progress and complacency with conviction.