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Review: Turning Pro

I have a particular interest in the dualistic approach of having both a professional and amateur career. So Steven Pressfield's book, "Turning Pro: Tap Your Inner Power and Create Your Life's Work" grabbed my attention when Amazon offered it as a suggestion. The reviews were OK and price was low, so I bit.

I was a little disappointed when it arrived, as it seemed to be not much more than a collection of typical self-help cheerleading affirmation-style stories. But it's well-written and eventually I found myself a quarter of the way through the book, but still not convinced. Then Pressfield dropped a reference to Gnosticism and I realized that perhaps we are like-minded after all. (Although, all of his references to Gnosticism are oddly past-tense, as if nobody believes that stuff anymore.)

In one chapter, he relates a joke that has an important message. A brief recap:

Two hollywood producers were talking. "I've got good news and bad news. The good news is that we can rent the location for the big party scene for only $10K, not the $50K we thought it would take. The bad news is they want $100 up front."

The sure sign of an amateur is he has a million plans and they all start tomorrow.

It's not all light-hearted, by any means. Here is another tidbit:

The amateur dreads becoming who she really is because she fears this new person will be judged by others as "different." The tribe will declare us "weird" or "queer" or "crazy." The tribe will reject us. Here's the truth: the tribe doesn't give a shit. There is no tribe.

That gang or posse that we imagine is sustaining us by the bonds we share is in fact a conglomeration of individuals who are just as fucked up as we are and just as terrified. Each individual is so caught up in his own bullshit that he doesn't have two seconds to worry about yours or mine, or to reject or diminish us because of it. When we truly understand that the tribe doesn't give a damn, we're free. There is no tribe, and there never was.

Our lives are entirely up to us.

The last portion of the book is better than the front section. It's there that Pressfield describes attributes and attitudes that separate the person who has made the leap to "turning pro," from the amateur who never gets beyond doing it "someday."

My bottom line is that Turning Pro was an enjoyable read, and there are numerous bits that will make you think or inspire you. (The bits that speak to you, of course, are likely different than mine.) I started out hopeful, became disappointed, then ended as an appreciative fan. Thanks, Mr. Pressfield.


Craig Conley

Great review and primo pullouts!

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