“The enemy of the artist is the small-time Ego, which begets Resistance, which is the dragon that guards the gold. That’s why an artist must be a warrior and, like all warriors, artists over time acquire modesty and humility.” ~ Steven Pressfield, The War of Art
Don’t be fooled by the size of Steven Pressfield’s gem of a book, “The War of Art.” While may be a small book, it is chock full of big and valuable ideas. This is a book for creatives — for people whose creativity is their passion: writers, artists, musicians, sculptors, dancers, actors/actresses, photographers – whatever passion fires you up and gets you excited.
This book takes you on a journey to battle against what Pressfield calls “The Resistance”, which he states “is the most toxic force on the planet.” So what is this Resistance? Resistance is inertia, that force which prevents us from doing the work we were meant to do. It is that which makes us say, “I don’t think I’ll work today. Maybe I’ll try again tomorrow.” It’s that force that makes us tell ourselves, “What’s the use. My manuscript is crap. My work stinks. I’m just not cut out to be a writer. I wonder who’s on Facebook?” Pressfield asks us:
“Are you a writer who doesn’t write, a painter who doesn’t paint, an entrepreneur who never starts a venture? Then you know what Resistance is.”
And what’s worse, is that Resistance only shows itself when you do something that really matters to you – all the more reason to combat it any way we can. For an excellent example of the of Resistance operates, Pressfield says:
“Resistance will tell you anything to keep you from doing your work. It will perjure, fabricate, falsify; seduce, bully, cajole. Resistance is protean. It will assume any form, if that’s what it takes to deceive you.
“Resistance will reason with you like a lawyer or jam a nine-millimeter in your face like a stickup man.
“Resistance has no conscience. It will pledge anything to get a deal, then double-cross you as soon as your back is turned. If you take Resistance at its word, you deserve everything you get.”
In the War of Art, Pressfield teaches us how to take even the most stubborn and tempting Resistances (such as those excuses we tell ourselves when we don’t want to do our work) and blow them to pieces. Using the war metaphor, we learn how to battle this unseen foe, but in order to do this we first need to recognize and know our enemy – and he shows us how to do so. He also reminds us that Resistance wants to take us down the easy road and wants us to just work hard enough to get by. But as Pressfield states:
“We come into this world with a specific, personal destiny. We have a job to do, a calling to enact, a self to become. We are who we are from the cradle, and we’re stuck with it.
“Our job in this lifetime is not to shape ourselves into some ideal we imagine we ought to be, but to find out who we already are and become it.”
“Resistance will tell you anything to keep you from doing your work”
The difference between those who succeed and those who don’t is a person’s ability to stomp on and crush Resistance, which tends to slam us extra hard as we near the end of a project, when we are close to completing our work. In each of these short-and-to-the-point chapters, Pressfield offers a prescription to combat this enemy by getting into the nitty-gritty of all those things that hold us back, those things that tell us we’re just not quite good enough.
The tips in this book help us to recognize and destroy the inner naysayer (which Julia Cameron and others call the “Inner Critic”) and instead, shows us how to go pro, for it is in going pro that we banish our enemy.
While reading this book, it made me personally aware of all the “junk” that was holding me back and made me face my own excuses head on. You won’t find 12-steps, chapter exercises or required journaling in this book. What you will find are no-nonsense methods for finishing your work and getting it out into the world, overcoming and smashing to bits those blocks that hold you back, defeating the negative self-talk in our heads and unblocking the barriers to our creativity. This book will certainly make you more aware of when Resistance digs its sharp claws into you and holds on for dear life.
While topic of Resistance is complex and certainly not a light one, Pressfield presents his ideas in a friendly, conversational manner, which renders the book not only approachable but also enjoyable.
If you’re looking to break through your own creative blocks or simply need some motivation, you can’t do much better than The War of Art: Break Through Your Block and Win Your Inner Creative Battles. Recommended!
You can check out the book HERE.
I’ve read a lot of business book over the years but none have them have stayed with me like Chris Brogan’s The Freaks Shall Inherit the Earth. Now some might be put off by the term freaks but Chris explains that being a freak is a good thing. He defines a freak as someone who does things their own way and who doesn’t necessarily “fit in” without some effort. It’s someone who does not do business the way the rules dictate and who is not a fan of settling or compromising. It’s doing business on your own terms and, as Chris puts it, “You’re looking for ways to allow your weirdness to be an asset and not the deficit that people have tried to convince you it is.”
The tone of the book is casual and conversational – it feels as though you’re chatting with the author over a cup of coffee at a local cafe. But don’t let its informality fool you – there are a plethora of valuable gems in this book that can help you in your business and personal life, regardless of whether you’re a new entrepreneur, someone who works a day job, or a seasoned businessperson.
He starts about by defining what business is and then covers such topics as how fear can mess up your business, how to schedule your workday, how to overcome obstacles and challenges, why community and connection is important, and how to build your own media empire, just to name a few.
One of my favorite chapters was the Creating Systems That Work for You chapter, in which he talked about establishing a compass – five to seven reminders that you need to focus on daily. He provides an example of his own compass and how he incorporates it into his business as part of his system. By creating a compass myself, I have become more focused on the important things and am accomplishing much more than previously.
I found the chapter entitled Structure a Framework for Your Days to be life-changing and after reading it, my entire attitude on goal-setting changed. His helpful A Daily Framework table provides an excellent starting point and can help keep you on track in both your business life and personal life.
The Freaks Shall Inherit the Earth is not only for entrepreneurs. A good majority of the information can be used even if you are employed by someone else, regardless of whether or not you plan on staring your own business down the road. Moreover, he dedicates an entire chapter to the topic which he entitled “Are You an Employeepreneur?” He defines and employeepreneur as “someone who has a job in a company, but is executing it like an owner”. In this chapter, Chris provides information how to excel at your day job and finding ways to accomplish your work goals. Lots of excellent stuff here.
The book is not just theory like so many business books out there but rather provides actionable tools to get you going. It also provides help to overcome those obstacles and pitfalls that inevitably appear in any business.
The book contains the following chapters (each of wish is broken down into several subsections):
- Business New and Old and New Again
- The Wild Colors and the Solid Spine
- Choose Your Own Adventure: Defining Success
- Skill Building for Your Business Goals
- Fall in Love with Not Knowing
- Structure a Framework for Your Days
- Are You an Employeepreneur?
- Create Systems That Work for You
- Are You a Solo or Small Business Owner?
- Fall in Love with Not Knowing, Redux
- Worship Obstacles and Challenges
- Build Your Own Media Empire
- Connect with Your Freaks
- Own Everything
- What It All Goes Wrong
- Take Action! Fight Crime! Save the World!
If you are thinking of becoming an entrepreneur, are a business person who tends to approach their business more unconventionally than others (or would like to) or are simply looking for some invaluable business tips, tricks, gems, tools and practical advice, then The Freaks Who Inherit the Earth is definitely worth a read. Recommended!
You can check out the book HERE