Tag Archives: Steven Pressfield

Gates of Fire by Steven Pressfield

Summary
  1. The Battle of Thermopylae told from the point of view one of the Spartan soldiers. This battle and story was popularized by the movie 300
Key Takeaways
  1. At the time of death, many fear separation from loved ones more than death itself
  2. Tells in vivid detail the brutal conquering of his town by Argos
  3. He is later caught steeling and is put up on a cross to be killed. His friends save him but his hands are ruined and he’s devastated as now he cannot become a soldier. A god appears and tells him he shall become an archer instead which his hands can handle
  4. He comes under the tutelage of a Spartan and recounts the brutal training and way of life of these warrior people
  5. The Spartans made fear a science and were so machine like in war that just their formations, singing and smiles pre war unnerved their enemies
  6. He described the war against the Persians so vividly you feel like you’re there. From the smells, emotions, weapons and after effects. It must have been one of the most intense and surreal experiences man can endure
What I got out of it
  1. Incredibly well written novel about the Battle of Thermopylae. Really good insight into Spartan life, culture and how brutal and life altering warfare at the time was

Don’t miss out on Pressfield’s Do the Work and The War of ArtBoth are fantastic

The War of Art by Steven Pressfield

Summary
  1. Pressfield tells his story of how in writing he encounters his most extreme resistance and this is part of why he does it.
Key Takeaways
  1. It’s not the writing part that’s hard, it’s the sitting down to write. Overcoming this resistance is absolutely vital to growth and happiness
  2. Defining the enemy, this resistance, is key and often the road you need to take (Pair with The Obstacle is the Way)
  3. Master the fear and you conquer resistance
  4. Resistance is strongest near the finish line
  5. Resistance feels like unhappiness and manifests in eating, drinking, drugs, sex, any distraction
  6. Only as free as the extent of your self mastery 
  7. The opposite of love isn’t hate, it is indifference
  8. Rationalization is resistance’s right hand man
  9. Must know the difference between what is urgent and what is important. Then do the important first (pair with Eisenhower’s matrix)
  10. Commitment to turn pro is epochal. A pro shows up every day no matter what and is in it for the long haul
  11. An amateur is directly tied to the success of his work. A pro, the process. A pro has skin in the game and is not afraid of criticism or failure 
  12. Pro does not let the actions of others define his reality 
  13. Thinking of self as a business helps you gain perspective
  14. The ego fears the true self as it likes how things are and hates change. Living up to the true self is daunting as this means we actually have to live up to the best version of ourselves
  15. Never compare yourself hierarchically as this kills motivation and makes you focus on the wrong things
  16. The hack caters to the audience instead of his heart
  17. Can find your “territory” by figuring out what you would do if you were the last person on earth (Stevie Wonder’s territory is the piano)
What I got out of it
  1. Go towards and embrace the resistance. Doing this will lead you in the right direction towards success and happiness

Do the Work by Steven Pressfield

Do the Work

Summary
  1. “This book is designed to coach you through a project (business venture, ballet, philanthropic enterprise) from conception to finished product, seeing it from the point of view of Resistance…those junctures where fear, self-sabotage, procrastination, self-doubt, and all those other demons we’re all so familiar with can be counted upon to strike.”
Key Takeaways
  1. Your enemies include resistance, rational thought and at times friends and family
  2. Your allies include stupidity, stubbornness, passion, blind faith, assistance and friends and family
  3. The book is broken down into 4 parts – beginning, middle, middle part 2 and end
    1. Beginning – Stay primitive. Trust the Soup (your muse). Swing for the fences. Be ready for Resistance
    2. Middle
      1. Seven Principles of Resistance  there is an enemy; this enemy is implacable; this enemy is inside you; the enemy is inside you, but it is not you; you are not to blame for the resistance you hear in your head; the “real you” must duel the “resistance you”; resistance arises second; the opposite of resistance is assistance
      2. Two Tests – How bad do you want it? and Why do you want it?
    3. Middle part 2 – Expect a big crash and don’t take failure personally
    4. End  – finishing is the critical part of any product; Fear of success is the essence of resistance; Stay stupid. Trust the Soup. Start before you’re ready.
What I got out of it
  1. I like the message that Pressfield is sending – expect to encounter resistance, trust the “soup” (your muse) and once you overcome resistance you will have the confidence to tackle it again and again in the future. This book is for anybody, in any field, at any point in their lives who wants to get better at breaking through this daunting barrier.