Steven Pressfield Online

SEARCH

Search

SUBSCRIBE

Subscribe RSS

Subscribe to SPO.

Writing Wednesdays

Writing Wednesdays

The Sphere of Self-Reinforcement

By Steven Pressfield | Published: August 20, 2014

The last two Wednesday posts, Process and Spot and The Game of Numbers, have been about the mental game of writing. Specifically, they’ve been about self-reinforcement.

Can you strive here and keep believing?

This is a subject they don’t teach at Harvard.

What exactly is self-reinforcement?

It’s not just patting yourself on the back or telling yourself, “Good work, kemo sabe” (one of my own favorite me-to-me phrases). In the two examples above, we’re talking about self-reinforcement for actions we’ve taken that have not produced results and that may not for a long time to come.

This, of course, is the most important kind of self-reinforcement. It’s self-reinforcement at the Ph.D. level. It’s professional self-reinforcement.

Let’s review, from last week’s post, Nick Murray’s concept of “the game of numbers.” Nick is a guru to financial advisors, i.e. the investment professionals that you or I might hire to help us take care of our money, to be sure we have enough to get our kids through college or to see ourselves and our spouse through a possibly-multi-decade retirement.

According to Nick, the most important skill a financial advisor needs is the ability to “prospect,” that is, to make cold approaches seeking clients. This is a helluva daunting chore. It elicits in most individuals profound, monumental, excruciating Resistance. Many financial planners fail simply because they can’t make themselves prospect or keep prospecting.

Nick Murray’s answer: make X approaches a day, rain or shine, and evaluate your success only by the fact that you made the approaches, not whether they produced immediate results.

If you keep prospecting, says Nick, the Law of Large Numbers infallibly kicks in. It may take 500 calls to get one client. It may take a thousand. But if you keep grinding, you will get the clients. The law permits of no exceptions.

Your job, Mr. or Ms. Financial Advisor, is to keep believing. And keep making approaches.

And you, Mr. or Ms. Writer, your job is to keep doing your pages. And keep believing.

Which brings us back to self-reinforcement.

How do we keep believing?

What keeps us from quitting?

Let me make a non-overstatement:

Self-reinforcement is more important than talent. (more…)

Posted in Writing Wednesdays
37 Comments

What It Takes

What It Takes

Crowdfunding, Part Deux

By Callie Oettinger | Published: August 15, 2014

For the past few weeks, Steve’s interviews with Jeff Simon have been appearing on this site. The last one ran just before Jeff’s Indiegogo campaign ended — fully funded I’d like to add (with a congrats to Jeff and Team Abercorn).

I shared a bit about his campaign via the post “Why You Need to Know About Crowdfunding,” with lessons from crowdfunding that crossover into outreach, for sharing our work.

A few additions to that piece:

If Mozart Could Do It . . .

Alexander Pope did it. Mozart did it. And . . . The “American Committee” (thank them for the base and pedestal of the Statue of Liberty) did it.

And, the three did it without the ease of a computer that could put them in touch with millions around the world.

Yes, they all had known names, but . . . Their outreach was similar to the word-of-mouth outreach that still starts at the local level today.

In Justin Kazmark’s article “Kickstarter Before Kickstarter,” you’ll find Mozart’s experiences in crowdfunding, as well as the stories of the other three:

In 1783, Mozart took a similar path. He wanted to perform three recently composed piano concertos in a Viennese concert hall, and he published an invitation to prospective backers offering manuscripts to those who pledged:

“These three concertos, which can be performed with full orchestra including wind instruments, or only a quattro, that is with 2 violins, 1 viola and violoncello, will be available at the beginning of April to those who have subscribed for them (beautifully copied, and supervised by the composer himself).”

Alas, not all projects reach their funding goals, and Mozart fell short. A year later he tried again, and 176 backers pledged enough to bring his concertos to life. He thanked them in the concertos’ manuscript:

Mozart's crowdfunders. Image credit: Cornell University Library.

So, if you’re looking for other examples of crowdfunding that would work in the realm of outreach, to share your project, consider going local for examples. We don’t know how Mozart got the word out, but the image below offers a clue to what the “American Committee” did. (more…)

Posted in What It Takes
2 Comments

Writing Wednesdays

Writing Wednesdays

“The Game of Numbers”

By Steven Pressfield | Published: August 13, 2014

Last week we were talking about Rory McIlroy’s “trigger words” from his victory in the British Open a few weeks ago—”process” and “spot.” We were saying that the principle behind these concepts was equally applicable to writing and to entrepreneurship.

My copy of "The Game of Numbers"

What is that principle?

It’s the idea of detaching yourself emotionally from the ultimate outcome of any enterprise (“I gonna win the Nobel Prize!” “I’m going to humiliate myself in the eyes of everyone I love!”) and focusing instead upon one simple, controllable object (“I’m going to sit down this day and work for three hours.”)

I want to introduce you to a book that articulates this concept better than any I’ve ever read.

It’s called The Game of Numbers by Nick Murray.

(Full disclosure: Nick has become a great friend and I’m a huge fan of all his work. Second full disclosure: Nick’s book costs forty bucks.)

The Game of Numbers is not about writing. It’s about “prospecting.”

Nick Murray is a guru and mentor to financial advisors. He writes a popular newsletter, as well as magazine articles and books. “Prospecting,” in the sense that Nick employs the term, means looking for clients. Cold-calling. It means approaching strangers and asking for their business.

Know that, for the purposes of this book, there are only two states of being [for a financial advisor]: prospecting and avoiding prospecting.

Is this starting to ring a bell? Hint: where Nick uses the word “prospecting,” substitute “writing.”

This is not a how-to book. It’s a how-to-not-stop book. Or, if you prefer, it’s not about prospecting; it’s about the fear of prospecting. And how to defeat that fear.

What I call Resistance, Nick calls Avoidance. There’s no difference between the two. (more…)

Posted in Writing Wednesdays
10 Comments
Sign up for first look access.

Enter your email to get free access to every new thing I do.

No spam, I promise!

Gates of Fire
The War of Art
Turning Pro
The Profession
The Warrior Ethos
Do The Work
Tides of War
The Afghan Campaign
The Virtues of War
Killing Rommel
Last of the Amazons
The Legend of Bagger Vance
Additional Reading
Video Blog