Turning Pro

I’m walking through Steven Pressfield’s book, Turning Pro, with a few digital friends in a digital book club, of sorts, and I am enjoying the challenge of writing down my thoughts consistently as I read them.

My typical pattern of writing and reflecting behavior as it relates to books is to consume, very quickly, the material and then go back and refer to what I had circled and made notes of. This activity, though, is very different as I am pausing mid-read to collect thoughts and expand on them. Whether this is a better way of doing things is unknown to me but it is, at the very least, refreshing.

Steven writes very early on his thoughts about ambition:

Ambition, I have come to believe, is the most primal and sacred fundament of our being. To feel ambition and to act upon it is to embrace the unique calling of our souls. Not to act upon that ambition is to turn our backs on ourselves and on the reason for our existence.

Those first stirrings of ambition saved me and put me on the path to becoming an artist and a professional.

I can remember very distinctly one of the few moments where I decided that I wanted to be different and do something significant with my life. I was sitting on the floor in a small room above my parents’ garage and through tears was pouring my heart out to my pregnant wife about how lost I really felt about my career. The thought of this memory makes my stomach churn a bit.

I encountered ambition that day and I made the decision that I had to, among many other things, become an adult. That doing what I “wanted” to do was not the same thing as what I “needed” to do. I went out that very same day and applied to Starbucks to be a barista.

I applied to a few other retail jobs so that I could at least earn a few dollars as I got my feet back up underneath me in software development after an incredibly rough start post-college.

I had no idea how important that decision was but it was fundamental to growing as a person and a professional. Little did I know that only a few months later I’d find myself as a software developer and engineer at the largest computer company on the planet (at the time).

My life as an “amateur” was over. I was going “pro.” And I never looked back.