Initial Thoughts on Do the Work by Steven Pressfield
About seven years ago, I read The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks & Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield and felt that it was a seminal piece of work so I recommended it to several people. Fast forward to a few months ago, its sequel Do the Work was released by Seth Godin’s Domino Project in collaboration with Amazon. I got a complimentary e-book version of Do the Work through the generous sponsorship of General Electric.
What is Do the Work by Steven Pressfield About?
So what prevents us from getting our work done, getting our goals accomplished? Is it, not having money? Not doing enough research? Not having enough time? Not having enough experience? Not having enough education? Is it because no one has ever successfully done this before?
No, it isn’t any of those things! It’s resistance.
According to Pressfield, resistance is a “Repelling force. It’s negative. Its aim is to shove us away, distract us, prevent us from doing our work… Resistance will tell you anything to keep you from doing your work. It will perjure, fabricate, falsify; seduce bully cajole…”
In Do the Work, Pressfield suggests that we remain stupid. Ignorance is bliss. Some of the greatest feats have been accomplished because people had no idea what they were up against and how arduous the tasks they were trying to accomplish really were. He cited Charles Lindberg (My mini biography of Charles Lindberg), Steve Jobs and Winston Churchill (My mini biography of Winston Churchill) as examples – three men who have incredible accomplishments under their belts. They had no idea just how difficult what they were trying to do would be and they were arrogant enough to believe that they could accomplish their goals. And that’s why they were successful. Once they committed to action, nothing could stop them.
Anyone can be bold and accomplish great things, but they have to be stupid, stubborn, passionate, and have blind faith. They have to believe the unbelievable. People who have had the greatest accomplishments in life have crashed and came head-to-head with the brick wall at various times. But they viewed the brick wall as a challenge, a problem to solve, and they worked through it. They faced the dragon, and they slew the beast.
To get any project started, ask yourself, “What is this project about?” When you are crystal clear about what your project is about, you will know what the end point is. If you know the end point then you will know which steps you have to take to get there. If you are not clear about the steps, work your way backwards from the last step to the first.
Steven Pressfield’s Seven Principles of Resistance
- Principle One: There is an enemy working against us so the trick is to recognize it.
- Principle Two: The enemy is implacable.
- Principle Three: The enemy is inside you.
- Principle Four: The enemy is inside you, but it is not you.
- Principle Five: The “real you” must duel the “resistant you”.
- Principle Six: Resistance arises second.
- Principle Seven: The opposite of resistance is assistance.
When you hit resistance there are two tests, two questions to answer, and your response will determine whether or not you are committed to move through the resistance.
Resistance Two Tests
- How badly do you want it? (You have to be totally committed)
- Why do you want it? (Because you have no choice, you absolutely have to do it, or because it’s fun for you)
Final Thoughts on Do the Work by Steven Pressfield
We all face resistance in our lives every day, but we may not realize that it’s resistance. Do the Work provides many examples to help you recognize resistance and what to do about it. I read Do the Work twice, because there is so much information packed in it, and the best thing is you can read it in an hour. I also liked Do the Work by Steven Pressfield because of the examples it includes. I recommend Do the Work.
I also recommend Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? by Seth Godin (My review of Linchpin) and Evil Plans: Having Fun on the Road to World Domination by Hugh MacLeod (My review of Evil Plans).
Steven Pressfield Books
The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative BattlesTurning Pro: Tap Your Inner Power and Create Your Life’s WorkDo the Work: Overcome Resistance and Get Out of Your Own WayGates of Fire: An Epic Novel of the Battle of ThermopylaeThe Warrior EthosThe Lion’s Gate: On the Front Lines of the Six Day WarNobody Wants to Read Your Sh*t: Why That Is and What You Can Do About ItThe Virtues of War: A Novel of Alexander the GreatTides of WarKilling Rommel: A NovelThe Profession: A ThrillerLast of the Amazons