By Steven Pressfield | Published: June 26, 2013
How hard is it to stop drinking? How hard is it to overcome an addiction? How hard is it to break free of a toxic relationship, a twisted family dynamic, a destructive marriage?
How hard is it to make those changes permanent?
When we talk about the switch from the mindset of the amateur to the mindset of the professional, we’re talking about a total, fundamental, life-overthrowing revolution.
That’s why it’s so hard.
The amateur is in the habit of yielding to Resistance, just as the alcoholic is in the habit of taking a drink. I can’t prove this, but I would bet the farm that the chemistry of the Resistance-addicted amateur’s body is as deformed as the physical chemistry of the heroin addict’s. To change, he has to alter that chemistry. And he has to do it by will power alone.
How hard is that?
It’s as hard to turn pro as it is to change nationalities, to move to another country, take on a new name, learn an alien tongue. It’s as hard as it is to switch genders, to wake up tomorrow morning in the body of a woman if you had been a man or the body of a man if you had been a woman. It’s as hard as bleeding out. As hard as letting go of your life. It’s as hard as dying.
I’ve used the phrase “turning pro” lightly in the past, and I was wrong to do that. There’s nothing light about it. There are no degrees to turning pro. There’s no such thing as Turning Pro Lite.
I turned pro myself because if I hadn’t I would’ve died. I couldn’t stand myself for one second longer or endure for another minute the wasted, pointless life I was living. Like the Peter Finch character in Network, I had run out of bullshit. Otherwise I never would’ve found the courage. It was too hard. Too unknown. Too terrifying.
I can’t fault anyone for staying on the amateur side of the line. You have to be crazy to cross over. The dirty little secret of every creative workshop or motivational seminar is simply this:
The person who is going to change is going to change anyway. She has no choice. She is impelled by inner necessity. While the person who is not going to change is not going to change no matter how many seminars or retreats she attends or how much money she pays to those who promise to help her make the change.
The good news about turning pro is it’s free. You can’t be excluded. No one can turn you back at the border. The act is self-initiated, self-sustained, and self-defined. You turn pro in secret. Not even the NSA knows you did it.
But you know. And I’ll know when I look in your eyes.
I know how hard it was. I know the price you paid. I know the guts it took. I know how scared you are, and I know how weird and alone it feels.
I salute you. You are one in ten thousand. You have done what many, many talk about, but damn few actually do.