On Turning Pro

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Are you a pro?

I don’t mean are you getting paid for the work you do. That has nothing to do with it. I mean, have you decided to be a pro?

In his new book Turning Pro, Steven Pressfield argues that we each face this decision daily. I’m not going to quote the book. You simply need to read it. All of it. In context. It’s really great, and I’m not hyping. It’s so to the point that it evoked tears. I simultaneously wanted to cheer Steven on and kick his ass for being so brilliant.

I spent much of my life as a paid amateur. I was doing what I needed to do to get the work done, but I was secretly waiting for someone to come along and “pick” me. I was saving myself for a marriage that would never arrive, while unwittingly giving myself over to anyone who came along. I worked hard, but I wasn’t a pro. I was auditing my own life. I was a ghost.

In short, I lacked grit. I hadn’t yet developed the “you will have to pry this work from my cold, dead hands” mindset to which I now aspire everyday. My resolve wasn’t yet steeled.

I remember the day it flipped. I went pro. I decided that I was going to do whatever it took to get my work out each day, and to develop my mind for wherever life led. The change was subtle, but it was marked by three little words that I swear are inscribed somewhere on the inside of my cerebral cortex: “Here I Stand”.

Against the turmoil, here I stand.

Against the critics, here I stand.

Against the scoffers and cynics, here I stand.

Against my own fear, here I stand.

Against exhaustion, pettiness, and excuses, here I stand.

Against compromise and short-cuts, here I stand.

Agains the seductive love of comfort, here I stand.

Here I stand, and neither your words, nor your threats will move me. I am a pro, and while I may not always produce great work, I produce, so deal with it.

If you want to be a pro, then be one. If you want to ghost your own life, then do it, but don’t waste everyone else’s energy by lobbing cynicism grenades based on your own fear of inadequacy.

Life is short. It’s the one you have, friends. Tick tock. Turn pro.

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So here’s the deal. Steven kindly sent me a few copies of Turning Pro, and I’d like to give them away. To enter, simply:

(1) Leave a comment on this post with a one sentence response that goes something like this:
“I turned pro the day I ____.” or “I’m turning pro today, because I’m ___.”

(2) Then tweet about or post this article to Facebook (above).

We will choose two winners sometime next week based upon your responses and mail you a copy of the book. Winners will be announced below. Good luck!

Todd Henry

Todd Henry

Positioning himself as an “arms dealer for the creative revolution”, Todd Henry teaches leaders and organizations how to establish practices that lead to everyday brilliance. He is the author of five books (The Accidental Creative, Die Empty, Louder Than Words, Herding Tigers, The Motivation Code) which have been translated into more than a dozen languages, and he speaks and consults across dozens of industries on creativity, leadership, and passion for work.

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