June 28, 2023
“I could divide my life neatly into two parts: before turning pro and after. After is better.”
For most of my life, I was living as an amateur.
Of course, I had no idea — even well into my “real world” career and American Dream life.
In the “work” sense, the author Steven Pressfield calls this a shadow career.
On the surface level, life looks “good.” The work appears meaningful.
But it’s a big lie, and our clinging to safety becomes self-destructive.
In a shadow career, we experience no real:
In my first 10 years of corporate life, I was all in. Blinders on. All that mattered was succeeding within the system.
Gradually—then suddenly(!)—everything changed.
I saw a vision of my higher self, and I couldn’t look away.
My inner GPS became obsessed with creating autonomy and real impact for myself and my family (the exact opposite of what corporate life seemed to be generating).
At first, the vision was vague…but it soon became more vivid and intense.
This was the way.
But then, an unrelenting enemy stepped into my path.
Resistance (with a capital “R”) is the enemy within — comprised of fear, doubt, and self-sabotage.
It’s what stands between us and living as our desired future selves.
Resistance can destroy us if we allow it to.
My shadow career was my comfort zone — I knew how to “succeed” within it.
I also knew the time had come to escape the shadow and pursue my true calling.
I needed to achieve escape velocity.
But the Resistance was strong. Logic (and loved ones) compounded the challenge by telling me to just stay on the safe path.
I learned that Resistance wants to keep you as an amateur.
However, my amateur life was causing me great agony.
The hard truth is that one day, we will all die. And most of us will carry our gifts to the grave. All of that untapped energy and potential will fade away.
This is what haunted me the most.
And it’s what compelled me to take up my sword and fight Resistance — daily.
“Sometimes it’s easier to be a professional in a shadow career than it is to turn pro in our real calling.”
—Steven Pressfield, Turning Pro
The only path to greatness lies in turning pro.
Once we turn pro, our lives undergo a profound transformation.
Our structure changes, longevity increases, and we redefine our priorities and actions.
People's perception of us shifts, and those still clinging to their safety may attempt to undermine our growth.
But at a certain point, we wake up and have an epiphany—where we can no longer tolerate the amateur life.
In that pivotal moment, we face a choice: revert to our old environment or embrace the path of professionalism.
What does it mean to turn pro?
First and foremost, it’s embracing the professional mindset. Picasso, for example, demonstrated ruthlessness toward his work when he felt it fell short of his expectations.
While amateurs run rat races and bicker over insignificant BS, professionals are laser-focused on being their future selves now.
After a decade that ended in divorce and devastation, I turned pro in my early 30s.
The people, behaviors, and priorities in my life are completely different from the old me.
My identity has completely shifted, and I’m ever thankful to my past self for his courage.
Everything changed when I decided to turn pro.
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