Steve's All Is Lost Moment, 1974




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What It Takes

What It Takes

Be More Than A Milk Crate

By Callie Oettinger | Published: March 3, 2017

Last month I attended the man of the year ceremony hosted by the Optimist Club of Passaic, New Jersey.

As the man of the year (also my husband’s cousin) stood up to speak, I was struck by the 400+ people in the room who’d shown up for the event. The cousin didn’t have a web site. He didn’t have a product to sell. He didn’t market himself via social media. Instead, he got out into the community and volunteered.

He’s a teacher who has coached football, headed the school’s ski club, worked with special education kids, raised money for scholarships, opened his home to friends and family in need, and who raised his 12 year old sister after their mother died and he became the sole caregiver (though he was barely 20 years old himself at the time).

People got to know him because he put himself out there.

He was seen.

People like him because he always has something kind to say (and his charm and quick wit are hard to deny).

He’s a good guy.

People show up when he needs help and to honor him because he shows up for them.

He gives back to others.

We spend so much time on this site—and other sites—talking about web sites and Google Analytics, and building engaging content and permission-based relationships, and blah, blah, blah.

If you really want someone to show up for you to support your work, you’ve also got to put in some face time.

Get out of your chair.

Leave your house.

Say hello to the rest of the world.

Build relationships that aren’t based online.

Do good for others.

Anyone can jump atop a milk crate in London’s Speaker’s Corner. But as they walk off, only a few have followers who trail after them—and fewer have followers who take action, who do more than follow like sheep.

Be more than a milk crate—and build more than a platform. (more…)

Posted in What It Takes

Writing Wednesdays

Writing Wednesdays

A Map of the Unknown World

By Steven Pressfield | Published: March 1, 2017


[Continuing our series on the Professional Mindset … ]


I’m reading a great book now (thanks, Bill Wickham, for turning me onto it) called Bugles and a Tiger, My Life in the Gurkhas by John Masters.

A WWII Gurkha with famous kukri knife

A WWII Gurkha with famous kukri knife

This is the kind of book I absolutely devour—a straight-ahead memoir, no plot, no characters, just an absolutely true account of a fascinating life experience, in this case the tale of a young Brit who served in India in the 30s in a legendary Gurkha battalion.

What exactly is a Gurkha?

The Gurkhas are Nepalese peasantry. Modest of stature, often illiterate, incredibly hardy and brave, loyal, dedicated and true, they have covered themselves with glory in every war they’ve fought in.

Here’s a story from Bugles and a Tiger (trust me, this relates back to writing and to the Professional Mindset):


A Gurkha rifleman escaped from a Japanese prison in south Burma and walked six hundred miles alone through the jungles to freedom. The journey took him five months, but he never asked the way and he never lost the way. For one thing he could not speak Burmese and for another he regarded all Burmese as traitors. He used a map and when he reached India he showed it to the Intelligence officers, who wanted to know all about his odyssey. Marked in pencil were all the turns he had taken, all the roads and trail forks he had passed, all the rivers he had crossed. It had served him well, that map. The Intelligence officers did not find it so useful. It was a street map of London.


I can relate to this saga completely. I have written entire books (The Legend of Bagger Vance for one) where I was navigating with total confidence by a map in my head, only to realize later that the map bore no relation whatsoever to the ground I was marching over. Yet I made it home.

I’ll bet you’ve done it too.

Our Gurkha rifleman had no legitimate map, but he had something better.

He had a professional mindset.

He had confidence.

He had self-commitment.

He had faith.

He knew the sun rose in the East and he knew he was heading northwest. He knew to keep his own counsel, trust no one but his own inner guide, and to keep on trucking.

Who cares if there was no Hammersmith or Wimbledon in the Burmese jungle? There was the stream, there was the crossroads. “You gotta believe.”

Prince Harry visits the contemporary Gurkhas, 2016

Prince Harry visits the contemporary Gurkhas, 2016

In the end, you and I as writers are guided in our work less by the specifics of our self-designs or structural concepts (however helpful such systems might be) and more by a calling in our hearts.

The story we’re telling knows itself.

It knows where it’s going.

It’ll tell us if we listen.

Our Gurkha rifleman may not have been able to spell Shepherd’s Bush or King’s Cross. But he knew his heart.

He knew his way home.




Posted in Writing Wednesdays

What It Takes

What It Takes

Grace Under Pressure

By Shawn Coyne | Published: February 24, 2017

I’m at the laundromat in Montana doing the midweek vacation clothes.  Will be back in the saddle next week.  Thought I’d run a personal favorite post of mine from back in the fall of 2015. 

Why can some surgeons, poker players, mountaineers, fashion designers, athletes and even writers tune out the external noise—and the even more distracting internal chatter—and perform seemingly effortlessly under extraordinary pressure?

Eric Clapton playing in The Last Waltz

Eric Clapton playing in The Last Waltz

While others with comparable training and technique, while capable and competent, just can’t approach the holy moly level of a transcendent master? (more…)

Posted in What It Takes
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