1-Sentence-Summary: Do The Work is Steven Pressfield’s follow-up to The War Of Art, where he gives you actionable tactics and strategies to overcome resistance, the force behind procrastination.
Read in: 3 minutes
Favorite quote from the author:
The War Of Art was one of my favorite summaries on Blinkist, so I thought I’d give Steven Pressfields 2011 follow-up a go. His main theme throughout these books is Resistance, the inner force that lets you procrastinate on work, even though it’s most important to you.
While the first book describes resistance in all its facets, Do The Work takes you through actually overcoming it.
Here are the 3 things I learned:
- If your work truly matters to you, the fear around it will never subside.
- Never take action and reflect on your work at the same time.
- Let your work itself be the biggest reward for working.
Let’s take a deep dive!
Lesson 1: If your work is important to you, the fear of doing it will never go away.
We always think that if we practice enough, we’ll get so good we’ll never have any problems with our work, ever again.
But that’s not true.
If you truly care about your work, you’ll always be worried about your performance, and that’s a good thing, because it means you’re still trying to get better.
So don’t stop when you’re afraid and instead, move on in spite of fear. After all, this is the definition of courage.
Lesson 2: Don’t take action and reflect at the same time.
Guess what the worst time is to edit a blog post? Right after you wrote it.
It’ll be impossible to objectively reflect on your work, because you just finished it, and are naturally proud of what you did – and you should be.
But that’s why it’s important to give yourself some temporal and physical distance, before judging your work.
I’ll even take it a step further and suggest this:
When in doubt, don’t reflect at all.
For example, I found it’s much easier to just write another blog post, instead of perfectly editing the last one. That’s why I usually just write, press publish and instantly write more.
Lesson 3: Your work should be the biggest reward for your work.
Resistance is a nasty thing. The perfect example happened to me today. It’s January 1st, which means I stayed up late for New Year’s Eve yesterday. However, I had already had a sleep deficit from getting up at 5 am for the past 2 weeks, to write these summaries every day.
Staying up until 2 am broke the camel’s back and I slept in, completely blowing my routine. Naturally, I had to overcome tons of resistance to write this today.
But I love writing these, and I have created a summary every day for the past 15 days – so I can’t just give up now. Looking back at how far I’ve come already made me want to continue.
So when you’re down and about to give up, look at what you’ve accomplished already, and let it drive you to doing even more. Then, ask yourself two questions:
- How badly do I really want this?
- Why do I want this?
You better be totally committed to it and feel like you have no other choice but to do it – because that’s the kind of work worth pursuing.
Note: I remind myself of these two things by listening to Eminem – Lose Yourself every single morning.
My personal take-aways
This book summary was very very short, only 4 blinks total, and while it was very inspirational, I felt the lessons lacked a bit of the actionable tips that the book supposedly holds.
The War Of Art is a fantastic book, and the summary on Blinkist for it is great, so I have no doubt that Do The Work is a good book as well – it just doesn’t really shine through in the summary.
Nevertheless, if you’re looking for a quick boost in inspiration, this is a good set of blinks to turn to. Otherwise, I suggest you just go straight for the book.
What else can you learn from the blinks?
- Which kind of resistance comes with which type of work
- How Charles Lindbergh overcame his resistance with what most people would think is a bad character trait
- A suggestion for a good structure for work projects
- When Steven Pressfield had his “Big Crash” and what that is
- Why Michael Crichton sleeps in hotels when he’s about to finish a novel
Who would I recommend the Do The Work summary to?
The 34 year old theater actress, who has her routine down to the last detail, the 20 year old blogger, who worries a lot between finishing a blog post and pressing publish, and anyone who relies too much on external motivation.