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Business

The War of Art by Steven Pressfield

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The War of Art is one GIANT quote we should all burn deep into our brains and hearts. Whoa, that’s intense. But I’m totally serious. I underlined and starred something on every freaking page. Pressfield is one talented guy. And he’s real, just as vulnerable as the rest of us. “The counterfeit innovator is wildly self-confident, the real one is scared to death,” says Pressfield. It’s nice to know even the top dogs don’t feel like they have it figured out.

Read my notes below but don’t think twice about not spending the $7 to get your own copy off of Amazon. This book is for artists, dreamers, creatives, entrepreneurs, those hoping for great inspiration, those wondering how to overcome self-doubt and how to beat procrastination, those going through the world with a fine-tooth comb, eager for the next idea, the next step of success. It’s out there, yes, but Pressfield would argue so much more of what you’re looking for is inside yourself.

A few of my favorite pieces of advice and inspiration for entrepreneurs:

1. Resistance is a bitch, a way worse character than the Big, Bad Wolf. It lies to you, sneaks up on you and will devour you, if you let it. Resistance takes on many forms of procrastination: Facebook, flat tires, crying babies, happy hour, etc. It can be overcome, but it ain’t easy. “The enemy is a very good teacher.” – the Dalai Lama

2. Fear is good for us. It means we care. It means we’re invested and headed in the right direction. “The more fear we feel about a specific enterprise, the more certain we can be that that enterprise is important to us and to the growth of our soul,” Pressfield says. Oh, and no matter how great you become, how much experience you have or how many followers you have on social media, fear doesn’t go away. And that’s not only okay but actually a good thing.

3. Resistance and fear might knock you on your butt, but you’ll know it’s worth the grit and failure and risk of ditching your amateur status and becoming pro when you’re creating and executing the ideas and life you see in your mind. “It is a commonplace among artists and children at play that they’re not aware of time or solitude while they’re chasing their vision. The hours fly. The sculptress and the tree-climbing tyke both look up blinking when Mom calls, ‘Suppertime!'” Pursue your calling. What’s the point of your life if you don’t?

4. If you make the jump as a full-time creative entrepreneur, you might be miserable at times. Push through anyway. “The artist committing himself to his calling has volunteered for hell…He will be dining for the duration on a diet of isolation, rejection, self-doubt, despair, ridicule, contempt, and humiliation.” I laughed so hard when I read this. It sounds so ridiculous but it’s so true, at times. Stick with it. It’s worth it.

5. “We must do our work for its own sake, not for fortune or attention or applause,” Pressfield says. Naturally, we want praise and recognition for our efforts, talent and brilliant creativity. And sometimes if no one notices how great we are, or notices but doesn’t acknowledge it, we feel unworthy. It is lame of us to feel this way, but super common. Next time that happens, remember this.

The Art of War is a super quick read. But take your time. Keep it handy for when you think being a creative entrepreneur is too hard, too lonely or makes you too poor. Let your favorite Pressfield quotes give you a good old-fashioned kick in the pants and then get back to it. Do more of what you love.

“It may be that the human race is not ready for freedom. The air of liberty may be too rarefied for us to breathe…The paradox seems to be, as Socrates demonstrated long ago, that the truly free individual is free only to the extent of his own self-mastery. While those who will not govern themselves are condemned to find a master to govern over them.”

Categories
Business

How to get in the creative zone

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Every designer, photographer and writer knows there’s something out there, be it a place, a Spotify station, a type of experience that sets them free into an untouchable sacred zone. A place where they turn all Girl on Fire, Katniss-like. Fierce, flying with ideas and intentions that are hot, hot, hot. There’s a flow & rhythm in the zone. It’s where you get stuff done. It’s what helps build confidence and excitement about your task, your motives, your endeavors. It’s a place that sometimes sneaks up on us and we need to act fast and get down to business before it slips into the abyss.

When creatives arrive at this place, it’s magical. Steven Pressfield talks about it this way in “The War of Art,” It is commonplace among artists and children at play that they’re not aware of time or solitude while they’re chasing their vision. The hours fly. The sculptress and the tree-climbing tyke both look up blinking when Mom called, ‘Suppertime!'”

You feel at home with your mind and your work when you’re in the zone. It’s peaceful and exhilarating all at once. You want to be there All. The. Time.

But, the zone is hard to come by when we’re feeling distracted, uninspired or too busy. Just like anything, the less and less we show up in the zone, the harder it’s going to be to ever get back. There will always be something or someone trying to keep us from the zone. Just like an athlete has to overcome his defenders, screaming fans cheering for the other team and booing his efforts or the debilitating memory of last game’s missed shots, as a small business owner, you must wade through the crap and find your sweet spot.

So, how do you get in the creative zone? Here are a handful of simple and effective ways you can prepare to arrive & stay in the zone:

  • Clean your workspace.
  • Exercise.
  • Fill your stomach with something healthy.
  • Go do something outside.
  • Get everything else out of your brain and into a notebook or Evernote or somewhere where you don’t have to think about it until you need to.
  • Meditate. Relax. Just sit and breathe for a second.
  • Close your email.
  • MOVE YOUR PHONE OFF YOUR DESK.

Because it’s such a unique place to be, we sometimes make our arrival to the zone way harder than it needs to be. That, my friends, is called good old fashioned procrastination. There’s no magic way to get to this magical place. You must be diligent and create it for yourself.

Now, go…