“The amateur believes he must first overcome his fear; then he can do his work.
The professional knows that fear can never be overcome.”
― Steven Pressfield, The War of Art.
How do you want to show up? “To what?,” you ask. “To anything,” I say. Take a moment and think about the question, “How do you want to show up?” Let’s say, for example, showing up to an audition. When I asked my dance students this question recently they quickly answered, “prepared, warmed-up, and professional.” From the back of the room a student called out, “Not afraid”. She then went on to say as a senior she was facing the audition season in a few months and she did not want to show up to an audition until she felt no longer afraid. Hmmm…interesting.
Steven Pressfields’ book, The War of Art, talks about the internal obstacles that hold us back from, well, doing anything. He refers to these obstacles as inner resistance. Pressfield compares a professional to an amateur, not in the way of receiving payment, but in attitude, discipline and focus.
A pro sees their work as a craft, more of a marathon which one has to pace themselves, rather than an amateur who waits around for spurts of inspiration, or motivation to get started. An amateur foolishly thinks that they have to conquer their fear and stay waiting for that fear to recede in order to get started. A pro knows that the fear will never go away, so they do whatever that thing is, afraid. Once started, and just by starting, a pro knows the fear will recede once action steps are put in motion.
A professional prepares at a deeper level with a clarity of purpose and uses discernment to be mentally prepared for the inner resistance that shows up…because it will, and often in a very sly way by sneaking in through the back door in the form of excuses. Resistance can be so subtle that we aren’t even aware it is there. It can tell us that we are too tired today or lack the motivation to workout, practice our instrument, or sit down and write. An amateur gives in to frustration, becomes stuck, and looks for a magical way out…by staying away from the thing that actually would benefit them by just getting started. Perhaps, they think they are just flawed and not capable. Isn’t that easier to believe? That is the voice of resistance whispering in your ear.
So, how do you want to show up? “To what?,” you ask. “To anything,” I say. How we show up IS within our control. There may be days when we lack the motivation to work out, practice our craft, for example, but we make the commitment and show up as a professional. We just have to start and the rest will take care of itself. It is that simple.