Adopting Pro mindset

Steven Pressfield is a profilic writer. I loved two of his books, ‘war of art’ and ‘do the work’.

He writes in a poetic manner which makes it less practical. This post is an attempt towards synthesizing my understanding of what is a pro.

Simply put, a professional is the one with professional habits.

The war for a professional is not with external circumstances but internal which he names as resistance.

The Professional is someone who

  • Is Patient
  • Seeks order
  • Demystifies
  • Acts in the face of fear
  • Accepts no excuses
  • Plays it as it lays
  • Is prepared
  • Does not show off
  • Dedicates himself to mastering technique
  • Does not hesitate to ask for help
  • Does not take failure or success personally
  • Does not identify with his or her instrument/work
  • Endures adversity
  • Self-validates
  • Reinvents herself
  • Is recognized by other professionals

Amateur vs Professional Habits

“The amateur tweets. The pro works.”

I have created a cheat-sheet based on the books.

MindsetMindsetFixed mindset
I can’t
I won’t be able to
I fear this ____
I don’t have _____
I lack ____
Growth Mindset.
Easily changes his mind.
(Small Identity)
Examples I can and I will.

I can learn _____
I can study _____
PerfectionismPerfectionist mindset.
Gets stuck in perfection.
I have to release it all perfect.
Has a draft mindset.

“One rule for first full working drafts: get them done ASAP.

Understands that this draft is not being graded.
Only one thing matters in this initial draft: get SOMETHING done, however flawed or imperfect.
AttitudeChildish care-free thinkingGrown up/Adult thinking.
Relation with realityLives in denial and acts by addictionLives in reality.
Thinking Style Long-term or short-termGives up to immediate gratification(short-term) instead of long-term growth, health, or integrity.
Faces and win against resistance in any act that rejects immediate gratification in favor of long-term growth, health, or integrity.
PlanningPlanning styleDoes not even know what he wants.
Does not try to plan any long term goal.
Knows that any project or enterprise can be planned down into stages like beginning, middle, and end.
Then, he just have to fill in the gaps; then fill in the gaps between the gaps.
Research StyleDoes research without a deadline.
Then, Research becomes a Resistance.
He keeps preparing to work but never works”
Understands Parkinson's Law.
Does research early or late but never does research in prime working hours.

Doesn’t stop working.

Understands that “Research can be fun.
It can be seductive.
That’s its danger.
We need it, we love it.
But we must never forget that research can become Resistance.
ProgressProgressThinks that progress is linear.
understand that progress is non-linear.
Sometimes, the middle part done and sometime the beginning.
Keeps working daily.
Action StyleThinks too much and acts on nothing.
Is always biased towards taking action.
Understands that he can always revise and revisit once has has acted but he can accomplish nothing until he act.
Work EthicsInspiration StyleMindset: keeps waiting for the inspiration to strike.
Waits for inspiration to strike and then work.
Mindset: “Starts before he is ready”.
Work on the same routine day in day out irrespective of the motivation, pain or any other excuse.
Working Hours Mindset.
Mindset: Play before work Daily Life is about *Drama *Denial of reality.
*Distraction * Pleasurable activities * Hobbies * Days are full of activities that does not even matter in the long run.
* Procrastinates often,
Mindset : Work before play
Sticks to his goals/resolution no matter what happens.
Sets up a strict work hours.
Orders the day such that he can confront the fear that paralyzes him.
Has strict rules and follows them to restrict the play during work hours.
* does not procrastinate important tasks as he understands that the most important tasks are non-negotiable.
Working AttitudeAddict
Escapes the real challenges.
Warrior Artist
“The warrior and the artist live by the same code of necessity, which dictates that the battle must be fought anew every day.
Dealing style with his calling (main career)Afraid of true calling, pursue a shadow calling instead.
Then drifts from his main purpose.
Fears that if he turns pro and lives out his calling, he will have to live up to who he really is and what he is truly capable of.
Embraces true calling.
Seeks his own voice, his own truth, his own authenticity.
Temptation resistanceGives up to temptations.
Does not try to fight them.
Each day, he understands that 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.
Presence of mindThe amateur spends his time worrying the past and imagining what the future will be.
The professional has taught himself to banish these distractions.
He knows that future will be same or worst if he keeps on doing the same activities.
He focuses on the 20% work which will provide 80% results in future.
SelfSelf-worthAllows his worth and identity to be defined by others.
Thinks what others think about him.
Defines his own worth according to his own standards.
FearsA lot of fears
Top 2
1. solitude
2. silence Because he needs to avoid, at all costs, the voice inside her head that would point her toward her calling and her destiny.
So she seeks distraction.
Embraces all fears on the journey like a true warrior.
Compassionlacks any Compassion for himself.
Understands that achieving compassion is the first powerful step toward moving from being an amateur to being a pro.
Self-AwarenessLacks self-awareness.
Does not reflect at all on his past day, week, year, decade.
is self-aware.

Reflects regularly.
Ask himself weekly questions to keep himself on the track.
Does weekly, monthly, quarterly, annual reviews to keep himself on the path.
Self-DirectionLacks self-direction.
Looks to others to provide himself his goals.
Has strong-self direction.
Knows where he wants to work and why.
Knows who he wants to be in the next 5 years.
Self-Doubtconstantly re-evaluates if his decision/goal is right or wrong.
Has self-doubt.
Works on commitment.
Thinks once and then understands that its a non-negotiable decision, a decision to which he must re-commit every day.
Self-TrustAlways looks out for others to guide him.
Distrusts his own inner voice.
Listens to his own voice often.
Has self-trust
EnemyThinks that his enemies are:
lack of preparation;
Difficulty of the project
the state of the marketplace
the emptiness of our bank account.
understands that the real enemies are the excuses Alibis Self-justifications a million reasons why we can’t/shouldn’t/won’t do what we know we need to do.
HabitsBed TimeNot fixed.
Wake up like a child freely.
Has a fixed a sleep and wake time.
ActivitiesDoes the same activities each week which does not provide any results.
Changes the activities he engages in according to the goal.
HealthEat whatever he craves whether its junk, chocolate, or burgers.
Does not care about his body.
Eats to optimize his body to maximum performance.
Changes the shape of his body to maintain optimal health needed.
Dealing with othersFriendskeeps up with old friends even if they restrict him from evolving further.
Does not take a step to get new friend related to his main goal.
Does not give a shit to any friend who is holding him back.
Understand that “Turning PRO” changes who is drawn to him and who is repelled by him.
Understands that Turning pro changes how people perceive him.
chooses carefully how he spends his time and with whom he spends it.
Choice of FriendsSticks with people who in the past had been colleagues and associates, even friends with whom he is has no common goal in present.
He does not have any intention to grow and evolve.
Understands that he has to choose between the life he want for his future and the life he has in the past.
Understands that he won’t be able to spend time with people from the past - colleagues and associates, even friends.
His intention to grow and to evolve.
Understands that new friends will appear just like old one.
Judgment of Society/Relatives/Friends/Others.
Fears becoming who he really is because he fears that this new person(new identity) will be judged by others as ‘differentBelieves that the tribe doesn’t give a shit so he is not afraid from the judgment of others.
Believes that there is no tribe, just individuals like him.
Takes the material of his personal pain and uses it to draw attention to himself.
Creates a ‘life’, a ‘character’, a ‘personality’.
Kinda Essentialist Everything is simple in his life.
No fancy cars.
No fancy things at all.

Also, he talks about the nature of practice.

Characteristics of a Practice

  • A practice has a space
  • A practice has a time
  • A practice has an intention
  • We come to a practice as warriors
  • We come to a practice in humility
  • We come to a practice as students
  • A practice is lifelong

Remember on 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.
  3. We’re in this for the long haul.

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