The 10 quick quotes below are from The War of Art by Steven Pressfield and selected by Ryan Holiday in this excellent Forbes article. It’s now at the top of my reading list.

We’re pros. We’re not amateurs. We have patience. We can handle adversity.

Steven Pressfield, The War of Art

Admit You’re an Addict

“We burn to accomplish something great, but don’t know where to begin…Enter: a drink, a lover, a habit. Addiction replaces aspiration. The quick fix wins out over the long slow haul.”

Hit Bottom

“I applaud your story of how you hit bottom, because at the bottom there is no one there but yourself.”

Ignore the Opinions of Others

“The amateur craves third-party validation. The amateur is tyrannized by his imagined conception of what is excepted of him. He is impressed by what he believes he ought to think, how he ought to look, what he ought to do, and who he ought to be.”

Have Empathy (For Yourself)

“In his heart, the amateur knows he’s hiding. He knows he was meant for better things…If the amateur had empathy for himself, he could look in the mirror and not hate what he sees. Achieving this compassion is the first powerful step toward moving from being an amateur to being a pro.”

Work the Program

“Turning pro is like kicking a drug habit or stopping drinking. It’s a decision to which we must re-commit every day. Twelve-step programs say “One Day at a Time.” The professional says the same thing.”

Have Your Epiphany

“The essence of epiphanies is the stripped away of self-delusion. We thought we were X. Now suddenly we see we’re minus-X. We’re X divided by infinity. There is great power in this moment.”

Embrace Ambition

“Ambition, I have come to believe, is the most primal and sacred and 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.”

Cut Out Distraction

“The amateur tweets. The pro works.”

Become a Creature of Habit

“The difference between an amateur and a professional is in their habits. An amateur has amateur habits. A professional has professional habits. We can never free ourselves from habit. But we can replace bad habits with good ones. We can trade in the habits of the amateur and the addict for the practice of the professional and the committed artist or entrepreneur.”

Play for Tomorrow

“Our role on tough-nut days is to maintain our composure and keep chipping away. We’re pros. We’re not amateurs. We have patience. We can handle adversity. Tomorrow the defense will give us more, and tomorrow we’ll take it.”


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