Do the Work
by Steven Pressfield
- Personal Development
- Ashto =
- Jonesy =
Do the Work is designed to coach you through a project—all the way from conception to the finished product. You can take and apply the principles we’ll explain to any form of endeavours or pursuits. Like acquiring physical fitness, recovering from a broken heart, or pursuing any objective that involves moving from a lower and less conscious plane to a higher one.
However, there are enemies that act as forces to work against us in our creative or entrepreneurial pursuits.
1. RATIONAL THOUGHT
Bad things happen when we employ rational thought because rational thought comes from the ego. We want to be working from the Self instead. We shouldn’t be ‘thinking’. We should be working off instinct and intuition, fuelled by the unconscious mind. If you’ve ever heard an artist say: ‘trust the soup’, she’s talking about the quantum soup—the metaphysical realm and letting go of the need for control. The deeper we invoke the source we work from, the better and more impactful our creations will be.
2. FAMILY & FRIENDS
The problem with family and friends is that they know us as our current selves and they are invested in maintaining us as the same person. However, the last thing we want to do is remain stagnant. If you’re listening to a podcast like ours, it’s because you sense a part of yourself that you could improve. With some exceptions, of course, most of your family and friends are the enemy of this unmanifested better version of you.
3. THE RESISTANCE
Any act that rejects immediate gratification in favour of long term growth, health or integrity, Resistance will rear its ugly head. Resistance may be invisible but it is a force that prevents us from doing our work. However, resistance is universal and a force of nature that acts objectively. Resistance’s goal is to kill the epicentre of our being—the unique and priceless gift that we all have inside us. The more the need to transform our soul increases, the more Resistance we will feel towards pursuing it.
Thankfully, aside from those antagonists arrayed against us, we have some champions joining the battle on our side.
The three dumbest guys Pressfield can think of: Charles Lindberg, Steve Jobs, and Winston Churchill.
Ignorance and arrogance are the artist and entrepreneur’s indispensable allies. A person must be clueless enough to have no idea how different their idea is going to be … and cocky enough to believe they can pull it off anyway. A child has no trouble believing the unbelievable, nor does the genius or the madman. It’s only you and I, with our big brains and tiny hearts, who doubt and overthink and hesitate.
Once we commit to an action, the worst thing we can do is stop. What will keep us from stopping? The plain old stubbornness. When we’re stubborn, there’s no quitting for us and we’re in it till the finish line.
3. Assistance (the opposite of Resistance)
Behind every law of nature stands an equal and opposite law. In this case, Resistance is the shadow and Assistance is the sun. A work-in-progress generates its own energy field, so while Resistance is trying to push you away from your work, an uncompleted project has built energy that is sucking you back into it. The energy, love, and passion in your work produce a gravitational field that draws similar entities into its orbits. This field is created by your will and attention.
4. Friends and Family
Even though they could be your enemies, they could also be your allies. When inspiration and success and fame and money have come and gone, who still loves us and whom do we love? Only two things will remain with us across the river: our inherent genius and the hearts we love. In other words, it is about what we do, and who we do it for.
The process is the same for every endeavour, creative pursuit, and form of idea generation: Act and Reflect.
The first draft is all action, no reflection. If you reflect while you act, you’ll second-guess yourself and you’ll stop acting. If we’re too busy judging the ideas we catch in our canvas, the ideas will stop flowing. Our job is not to control our idea, our job is to work out what the idea is and what it wants to be, then bring it into reality.
Once you’ve gotten your ideas out of your head and onto the paper, you can engage other parts of your brain. We need to know if we’re on track if what we’re doing is in line with the purpose of the project. Action is important but you can’t keep acting with no meaning, you need to reflect and make sure you’re heading somewhere.
THE BELLY OF THE BEAST
The Big Crash
Imagine doing something so great. Our project is in high gear, we are almost finished (or maybe even finished). Then inevitably, everything crashes. If it’s a movie, the leading character checks into rehab. If it’s a startup, your key investor pulls out. If it’s a rodeo, the star bull runs away with the hottest heifer. This ‘Big Crash’ is so predictable across all fields of endeavour, that we can practically set our watches to it. Nothing can prepare you for it, and there are generally no warning signs. The crash just crashes.
We had our ‘Big Crash’ moment after getting feedback on the initial Top 100. Some people said that the order in our episode made no sense and it didn’t flow. So we had to work out what worked and what didn’t, effectively starting over from scratch and rewriting the whole thing (a few times) with a new style and new structure. At the time, the crash was a little painful. But in the end, it led to massive growth and the end result was worth the pain we went through.
Crashes Are Good
Crashes are absolute hell … but they’re good for us. A crash means we have failed, but a crash doesn’t mean we are losers. A crash means we have grown. A crash means we’re at the threshold of learning something, which means we’re getting better and acquiring the wisdom of our craft. A crash forces us to figure out what works and what doesn’t. Whatever the cause, the big crash compels us to go back and solve the problem that we either created directly or set into motion unwittingly at the outset.
Start (Again) Before Your Ready
Start again before you’re ready. Pressfield had been trying to write a novel for 17 years. He gave up on some manuscripts; he finished 99.9% for some and threw them in the bin; he gave up on some ideas before he even started. When he finally finished one, he drove to his best friend’s house and announced that he’d finished his first novel. His friend said congratulated him then said, ‘now start the next one.’
So that’s the advice for you! Take the rest of the day off. Pop some champagne, take your loved ones out to dinner, give yourself a pat on the back or even a standing ovation. Then get back to work. Begin the next one.