Do the Work by Steven Pressfield

The enemies are 1) Resistance; 2) Rational Thought; 3) Friends and family. They will affect any business venture; undertaking of creative work; arts endeavour etc. Resistance will prevent you from doing your work. Resistance is Invisible. Resistance is Insidious, Impersonal, Infallible, universal; it never sleeps and plays for keeps. The aim is to kill your genius and soul. Rational thought is bad for the artist or entrepreneur and one should rely on instinct and intuition instead. The problem with families and friends is that they know us as we are, but we do not want to remain as status quo. The people on our side are the following: 1) Stupidity; 2) Stubbornness; 3) Blind faith; 4) Passion; 5) Assistance; 6) Friends and family. Stay stupid and don’t think. Just act. Being stubborn is great. Believe in blind faith and that you can produce something great. Conquer your fears. Your friends and family can be your close allies.

The three dumbest guys I can think of: Charles Lindbergh, Steve Jobs, Winston Churchill. Why? Because any smart person who understood how impossibly arduous were the tasks they had set themselves would have pulled the plug before he even began. – Steven Pressfield


The enemy is our chattering brain, which, if we give it so much as a nanosecond, will start producing excuses, alibis, transparent self-justifications, and a million reasons why we can’t/shouldn’t/won’t do what we know we need to do. – Steven Pressfield

Don’t prepare. Begin now. The enemy is not lack of preparation but resistance. Start before you’re ready. Do not do excessive research and learn to stay primitive. A baby is often born amidst chaos, pain and blood. That’s where you want to be. Swing for the seats. Be ambitious and aim BIG. Use the following 3-act structure. Break a sheet of foolscap into 3 parts. The Last Supper etc all can be broken down into 3 parts. In fact, everything. Does your idea feel right on instinct? Are you willing to bleed for it? ‘Get your idea down on paper. You can always tweak it later.’ Screenwriters often work backwards and begin at the finish. Figure out where you want to go, then work backwards. What is your project about? End first, then beginning and middle. Don’t listen to the chatter. Chatter is Resistance. Remember the 3 pointers: (1) Stay primitive; (2) Trust the soup; (3) Swing for the seats

Evil cannot be overcome. It is impossible to eliminate Resistance and one should learn to respect it. Any project consists of beginning, middle and end. Then, fill in the gaps with interesting stories. Momentum over quality at the start, always remember. The key is to get the full draft out asap. Don’t think or hesitate one bit as it is not being graded. You are not allowed to judge yourself at this stage. Stay stupid. Act, reflect. Act, reflect. Do not do both at the same time. Action means writing down on paper. Reflection means evaluating what is on paper. If the idea sounds crazy, it’s the one that you want. Never doubt the idea generation process. Never say no. Now, the universe has an equal and opposite reaction. It is known as assistance. Your great work creates ideas spinning into orbit. The whole process generated its own momentum and others are on-board now. The key is to keep working. Work every day. Keep working. Keep working. Keep working. Ignore false positives etc. Twice a week, reflect and ask what your theme of your project is again and again. We start to have fun…then we face a wall. The voice in your head that says ‘you suck’ is back. We are about half-way to two-third through. Now, we start panicking.

Principle 1: There is an enemy. The key is to recognize that resistance is the enemy. Principle 2: The enemy is implacable. It will aim to kill you. Principle 3: This enemy is inside you. It is internal, not external. It is not peripheral. The enemy is inside you. Principle 4: The enemy is inside you, but it is not you. You are not to be blamed for the voices you hear. It is like a heartbeat, it can’t be stopped. Principle 5: The ‘Real You’ must Duel with the ‘Resistance you’. You are the knight. Resistance is the dragon. Let’s fight. Principle 6: Resistance Arises Second. Passion is first, resistance comes after. The urge came first, before resistance. Principle 7: The opposite of resistance is assistance. Test number 1: ‘How bad do you want it?’ How do you feel about your project? Dabbling/Interested/Intrigued but Uncertain/Passionate/Totally Committed. Test number 2: ‘Why do you want it?’ 1. For the babes; 2. The money; 3. For fame; 4. Because I deserve it; 5. For power; 6. To prove my old man wrong; 7. To serve my vision of how life/mankind ought to be; 8. For fun or beauty; 9. Because I have no choice. 8 and 9 are the correct answer. Question your attitude. Check your ego, sense of entitlement, impatience, fear, hope, anger. Leave behind all previous grievances and all sense of personal expectations.

Our ordeal is tougher. We are alone. But we have an internal bell (to signal giving up). Will you ring it? A crash is good as it means that we are learning. Our greatest fear is fear of success. Panic signals growth to the next level. Panic is good. The problem is the problem. The problem is hell, but it’s just a problem. Work the problem. The book uses the example of Moby Dick to illustrate his point. Learn to re-write and not write from scratch. Edit it such that it will go well with the underlying theme and triumph.

Shipping your product requires a killer instinct. The resistance is the strongest near the finish. Aim big, don’t feel that you cannot handle better or bigger. When we ship, we’re exposed to the world. Don’t be afraid to get judged. Slay the dragon once and you will feel powerful. Once you have beaten resistance, you know you can beat him again. Now that you have shipped it, congratulations! Start before you’re ready. Start on your new project tomorrow!

We are now faced with the fact, my friends, that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there is such a thing as being too late. Procrastination is still the thief of time. Life often leaves us standing bare, naked and dejected with a lost opportunity. The tide in the affairs of men does not remain at flood – it ebbs. We may cry out desperately for time to pause in her passage, but time is adamant to every plea and rushes on. Over the bleached bones and jumbled residues of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words, “Too late.” – Martin Luther King Jr


Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented or fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure about you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates us. – Marianne Williamson



do the work

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