Steven Pressfield: Talent is Bullsh*t The Chase Jarvis LIVE Show

Key Takeaways

  • “There’s a secret that real writers know that wannabe writers don’t know, and the secret is that it’s not the writing that’s hard, what’s hard is sitting down to write.” Steven Pressfield
  • Resistance is a negative force that stops us from doing what we know we should do
    • If you’ve ever bought any home fitness system (abdominal machine, treadmill, etc.) and found it collecting dust in the guest room, then you know Resistance
  • How to battle Resistance?
    • What works best for Steven Pressfield is the concept of “turning pro” and putting your body where your soul wants to be
      • A professional is someone who never quits when doubting
      • “Pack up the cat, pack up the kids, pack up the spouse, and move to the place in the world that is the epicenter of your dream.” Steven Pressfield
  • Being good at your craft is not the differentiator- it’s the circle that you spend the most time in
    • People don’t learn by reading books, they learn from watching somebody do 
  • A lot of the payoff of working hard is that finally one day you just sort of give up
    • In the context of being a writer, it means you stop trying to write like other authors and you start writing your stuff
    • “So I think in a lot of ways, work takes you to the place where you give up, at least this is my experience, and you just finally start singing in your own voice. It is this kind of mysterious process. ” – Steven Pressfield
  • Steven is convinced that our DNA changes when we actually commit to something 
    • Also, the world changes for us. Strange, good things start to happen; people will give us jobs, and help us out happen
  • You should always be working. Never wait for the world to react
    • “…if you finish one piece of work and you put it out there to the world and you’re waiting for the response, you might as well put a gun to your head and just pull the trigger.” – Steven Pressfield

Key Books Mentioned

  • Books by Steven Pressfield
    • War of Art, The
      • The title of the book came from his partner and editor, Shawn Coyne
      • Read if you struggle to express your creativity
      • Learn about the various methods how to combat “Resistance”
    • Put Your Ass Where Your Heart Wants to Be
      • Pressfield’s latest book
      • Move thy butt
      • Simplicity and consistency

Intro

  • Steven Pressfield (@SPressfield) is an American author (historical fiction, non-fiction, and screenplays)
    • Steven’s book “The War of Art” has changed so many people’s mindsets about creating the life that they want, and his new book, “Put your Ass Where your Heart Wants to be,” tells you exactly what you need to do if you want to commit to your dream. Spoiler Alert: It’s probably not what you want to hear
  • Host – Chase Jarvis (@chasejarvis)

Waging War in the Name of Art

  • Do you want to be a writer, a photographer, or an athlete?
    • “There’s a secret that real writers know that wannabe writers don’t know, and the secret is that it’s not the writing that’s hard, what’s hard is sitting down to write.” Steven Pressfield
    • Writing is the easy part. The hard part is sitting down in front of any creative thing 
    • It’s a war, and the enemy is called Resistance (with a capital R)
  • Resistance is a negative force that stops us from doing what we know we should do
    • The single biggest blocker between us and our greatest creative achievements
    • If you’ve ever bought any home fitness system (abdominal machine, treadmill, etc.) and found it collecting dust in the guest room, then you know Resistance
    • Resistance comes when you try to go to a higher level, either morally, ethically, creatively, etc., never when you’re going to a lower level
  • “You’re no good, your idea is old, already has been done.”Resistance
    • It’s the same type of voice for every person
    • Resistance seems to be a force of nature and nobody teaches you about it in school

Tools to Use Against Resistance

  • What works best for Steven Pressfield is the concept of “turning pro” and putting your body where your soul wants to be
    • Instead of blaming yourself when making a mistake (this is amateur thinking), start thinking like a professional
    • A professional is someone who never quits when doubting
    • They play when they are hurting, they don’t wait for the day when they are “injury free” to do their job 
    • Think of yourself as a professional and never stop
    • An amateur is someone that’s halfway in, and halfway out. They quit in the face of hardship
  • Putting your physical body where your soul wants to be – there’s a magic to it
    • “…but basically the gist of it is put your body in the spot where your soul wants to be and things will start to work.”Steven Pressfield
    • Instead of being a wannabe dreamer, start working with a professional you admire, and every day you’re gonna get better, more drenched in the concept of being a professional 
    • If you wanna be a writer, sit in front of a keyboard and just hit it every day for the next 30 years
    • “Pack up the cat, pack up the kids, pack up the spouse, and move to the place in the world that is the epicenter of your dream.” Steven Pressfield
      • Country music -Nashville
      • Movies – LA  
      • Fashion – New York, Paris, Milan, or whatever 
    • By moving your physical body to a specific place, all sorts of good things can happen

How Important Is Your Community (Mentors and Peers)?

  • Being good at your craft is not the differentiator- it’s the circle that you spend the most time in
    • People don’t learn by reading books, they learn from watching somebody do 
    • E.g. want to be a professional photographer? Become a professional photographer’s assistant
    • By finding a mentor, you will learn how they organize their day, their mindset, etc.
  • If you have negative friends (people who have given in to resistance), that is gonna bring you down
    • “Sometimes you have to separate yourself from people that are caught in their own resistance and pulling you down.” Steven Pressfield

What Price Are You Willing to Pay to Not Follow Your Dreams? 

  • “This unexpressed art actually carries a heavy burden. This unexpressed, I would even say a version of ourselves, there’s a heavy price to pay for not expressing that. ” Steven Pressfield
    • Not pursuing your dreams is not without cost
    • That force stays inside you, wants to be born
    • If you don’t give birth to it, it redirects into other negative channels and will start to work against you 
    • It’s not just a luxury to live out your dream or your calling, it’s an imperative

Talent Is Bullsh*t

  • The phrase/mantra comes from Steven’s first agent, Barthold Fles
    • Steven doesn’t have a tremendous amount of talent
    • He believes to be very ordinary but he worked hard
    • Hard work (habits) is the primary factor in becoming successful
    • Remember – you can always get better. It took 25 years for Steven to get just to the level of publication
    • 25 years of just writing bad stuff. Now people say he has talent, but those same people said he stank for 30 years
  • A lot of the payoff of working hard is that finally one day you just sort of give up
    • In the context of being a writer, it means you stop trying to write like other authors and you start writing your stuff
    • “So I think in a lot of ways, work takes you to the place where you give up, at least this is my experience, and you just finally start singing in your own voice. It is this kind of mysterious process. ” – Steven Pressfield
    • But without that work, you’re never going to get there
  • How does resistance manifest itself in the world of photography (Chase’s confessions)?
    • His life was not a struggle, therefore he thinks he is not able to create great art
    • He doesn’t have the right equipment 
    • He doesn’t have time because of kids
    • All these skills are between him and the dreams that he has; it’s a seemingly endless list. 
  • “What it comes down to, it is most people who haven’t found the fulfillment and/or success that they seek in these disciplines. They just have not done enough work.” – Steven Pressfield
    • “You wanna do good work?” “Show me all your garbage.”Chase paraphrasing Steve Godin
  • If you don’t know what your signature style is then you have not done enough work
    • “And this is the thing that no one likes to hear because it is a long, lonely road and putting in the work.” Steven Pressfield

Put your Ass Where your Heart Wants to be?

  • “I would say that in every major religion if we want to boil it down, all they’re really saying is put your ass where your heart wants to be.” Steven Pressfield
    • Take your ego, your material self, and move it into the area of the soul where your heart wants to be 
    • Stop living out of greed, fear, or acquisitiveness and start living out of your gift to the world (whatever that is) 
    • That’s really what Christianity is about, as also Judaism, Buddhism, and Zoroastrianism, according to Steven
  • When you commit completely, then the magic starts to happen
    • Steven is convinced that our DNA changes when we actually commit to something 
    • Also, the world changes for us. Strange, good things start to happen; people will give us jobs, and help us out happen 
    • The gods and the goddesses will begin to give us their gifts (ideas, visuals, etc.). They can tell if we are committed or not

Steven’s Creative Process

  • Steven’s creative process is full of self-doubt all the way
    • The more doubt/resistance he feels, the more sure he is that he has to do it
    • That’s where the work comes in:
      • He keeps working every day, and will still be in doubt all the way through
      • “This is going nowhere.” 
      • “I don’t know what I’m doing.” 
      • “Okay, whatever, whatever. I’m this far into it, I might as well keep going.” “What am I afraid of?” 
      • “What didn’t I go deep enough into?” 
  • There’s a safe way and then there’s a way that you can look like a real fool if you don’t pull it off
    • And that’s always the way you want to go in the end; always go a little bigger

Creative Calling

  • For anyone reading right now full of self-doubt:
    • Pressfield’s journey was like banging into one wall after another 
    • He needed to accept that being a writer was what he really wanted to be 
    • Even though he accepted it, he had no clue if he was ever going to succeed
  • After that moment of acceptance, it was another 20 years before he had any success at all
    • “…a lot of times we’re so impatient, particularly this generation today, the Instagram, TikTok generation, you think like, ‘Oh, I’m just waiting for that breakthrough and everything’s going to change.’ But no. I mean, you have the breakthrough and then you got another 20 years after that.”Steven Pressfield 
    • The good news is once you have that personal breakthrough where you know your calling, you won’t care if you fail
    • You have no choice, you can’t do anything else. This is who you are.
    • Even if you struggle and fail, you know you are on the right path

“What Do You Do Between Books?”

  • This question applies to all creative work
    • “There never should be a between books. You should always be…”Steven Pressfield
    • When you’re halfway through your current project, you should already be starting the next one
    • You should always be working. Never wait for the world to react
    • “…if you finish one piece of work and you put it out there to the world and you’re waiting for the response, you might as well put a gun to your head and just pull the trigger.” – Steven Pressfield
    • Everybody does it and it’s the worse thing you could do for yourself
    • If you keep working, you always have the next one; you will not care as much
  • “And that way you keep working and you’re always in the muse’s good graces. Even if you’re not in the good graces of the New York Times best-seller list.”- Steven Pressfield
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