Ep. 197 - Steven Pressfield [Part 1]: How to Go From Amateur to Pro - The James Altucher Show
HOW TO GO FROM AMATEUR TO TURNING PRO?
I had a full time job. I was trying to run a business on the side. I was pitching two TV shows. And I was obsessively playing chess day and night and traveling to tournaments.
And nothing was going well. My attention was scattered. I was unhappy. I felt stuck.
One time I was talking to one of the partners in my side business, Randy Weiner. I said to him, "I'm reading this fascinating book about chess endgames".
He said, "I don't care about that! Why are you even looking at those books? Chess is a game for kids. You should be working at this business full-time."
The next day I quit my job. I joined the business full time. I never played in another chess tournament ever again. I stopped pitching TV shows.
I went from being an amateur to being a pro.
Which is why I'm glad the other day I spoke to Steven Pressfield, author of "Turning Pro", "The War of Art", "The Legend of Bagger Vance", "Do the Work", and more than a dozen other great books and novels.
Sometimes it seemed like each new low was lower. And often the highs were higher. But I haven't had a job since.
Ever since I made the decision to turn pro, I've been free.
It took me two years of asking before Steven finally agreed to do the podcast. I've read all his books twice. But I was still scared to death right before the podcast.
Steven and I spoke for two hours about turning pro, writing, how to improve, how to achieve peak performance in any field of life.
I wanted to ask questions nobody else would ask him. Two hours later I feel good about it. The podcast is coming out later today.
Here is some of what we spoke about:
- HOW TO DEAL WITH THE DEMONS
When I join a gym, I go until I stop going. Then it basically teeters off.
I'm an amateur at going to the gym.
Every single day I write. If I don't do it for two days in a row I feel physically sick.
But so many times I feel bad about what I am working on. Or I feel unsure if I should work on the next book. or try the next new idea.
The demons come up. I get blocked. I get frustrated or scared. Will I be a failure? Have I run out of ideas?
Steven wrote several books about these very demons.
Steven said, "those thoughts are 'the Resistance'.
"Every time you want to go from a lower level to a higher level - becoming an entrepreneur., get in better shape, meditate, be an artist - the Resistance will ALWAYS attack. Every writer or entrepreneur feels the Resistance every day."
Recognize each thought as it comes up, he said. Identify the thoughts that are the resistance. Say, 'that's the resistance".
"There's no way to get rid of The Resistance. Be aware of it. Say to yourself, these thoughts won't help me achieve my dreams."
- KEEP THE EGO OUT
A friend of mine started a company once. It was clearly a bad idea. But he thought it was a homerun.
This is a cognitive bias. We tend to believe that if we pour our heart and soul into someone (our personal "investment") then it's a good idea.
When I do something I have to constantly stop and ask if I'm smoking my own crack.
One time I made a website I thought was brilliant. It had an IQ test on it. And it was a dating site. And it would tell you if you were smart or stupid and you can then date people and know their intelligence.
I thought it was brilliant!
My six year old daughter told me, "Isn't this kind of mean?"
My daughter refused to light my crack pipe.
Steven told me he had to make sure with his most recent novel, the autobiographical "The Knowledge" that he had to keep his ego out of it. "I had to put some distance between myself and the writing because it was about my early struggles as a writer."
- EVEN A PORN DIRECTOR CAN BE A MENTOR:
Steven told me about how he switched from writing bad novels to going into screenwriting, to finally getting back to writing novels.
It's important to keep switching around, to pursue every angle of an interest. To take away a lesson fro…