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Defeating the “Enemy of Success” with Steven Pressfield (The War of Art)

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It’s daunting to wake up every day and try your best at whatever it is that you do. Maybe it’s your job, maybe it’s real estate, maybe it’s writing a book. When you sit down at your desk, there’s that little voice that says “get another cup of coffee” or “just take a little email break before you start” or “you’re not going to get anything done, who are you kidding?”

This is the voice of resistance, and to author Steven Pressfield, it’s a voice that needs to be silenced and controlled at all costs. Steven should know, he wrote the book on fighting resistance, The War of Art, where he talks about how to keep up inspiration, even when there isn’t any to be found. As Steven puts it “an amateur does things when they feel like it, a professional doesn’t care how they feel, they just do it.”

This is something many real estate investors struggle with. We want to buy another property, but we get stuck in analysis paralysis, or scared off by some new type of financing, or don’t want to take on another rehab. Professionals don’t let their environment (or their own mind) tell them what they should and shouldn’t do. Professionals do what has to be done.

We also talk with Steven about his latest book A Man At Arms and why the ancient world of nobility and strength intrigued him so much. If you’ve seen any of Steven’s films, read any of Steven’s books, or just want to push through to success, you’ll love his take on writing, success, and failure.

Brandon:
This is the BiggerPockets Podcast, show 461.

Steven:
The victories come as a by-product of the practice. It’s very hard to keep that mindset. And it’s real easy to backslide, particularly when you have a success, because then you think, “Oh, I’ve got it.” And then you slack off and you get walled from behind. But the professional I think is in it for the long haul and is playing the long game.

Intro:
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Brandon:
What’s going on everyone? It’s Brandon Turner, host of the BiggerPockets Podcast here, not literally in person, but here over the internet with my buddy David, warrior man Green, we’re going to go with warrior man Green. What’s up, man? How have you been?

David:
You always throw man onto the end of whatever adjective you use for me. Real estate, man.

Brandon:
David Doug, man.

David:
Warrior man. Yeah, the man’s cool, but it’s funny. It sounds like when Rosie would call me a name, “Is that your friend, the [crosstalk 00:01:09] man?”

Brandon:
That’s funny though. She doesn’t talk about you. She just runs and hides, but that’s okay. Speaking of warrior man, speaking of war, it looks like you got some battle scars on your face today. You hit yourself with a weight?

David:
No, I wished it was something as cool as that. It was actually me trying to catch up to your jujitsu prowess and taking a knee to the face, which happens.

Brandon:
There you go.

David:
It was all in honor of today’s guest, Steven Pressfield, where we dive deep into his brilliant mind. I’m going to go as far as to say, I think we get some information out of him that nobody ever has, particularly regarding his relationship and esteem for Roman and Greek culture. So I was doing my best to imitate somebody from 300 when I received this wound. And I bare it with pride and honor and nobility.

Brandon:
Yeah there. You can call it that, we’ll go with that. You’re right though. Steven Pressfield is one of my favorite thought leaders, authors in the world. You guys have heard me talk about it before on the show here. When I sent him an Instagram message asking if he wanted to come on the BiggerPockets Podcast and I got a response, I think I jumped up and down and squealed more than I did when Matthew McConaughey’s team said that he would come on the show.

Brandon:
This guy, if you guys have not read The War of Art, now this is not The Art of War. That’s the whole like Sun Tzu’s book. I don’t even know who wrote that one. This is The War of Art and it is one of the most life-changing books I have ever read. He’s got a follow up to that one called Turning Pro. But he’s also a fiction writer. He just wrote a book called A Man at Arms, I just read. It’s phenomenal as well. And if you’ve not read any of his stuff, especially The War of Art, please, please, please do that.

Brandon:
It is one of the most important books for every entrepreneur, business owner, real estate investor out there, and has nothing to do with real estate and everything to do with real estate. So check it out. I think you’ll like it. He also, if you guys remember the movie The Legend of Bagger Vance, he’s the guy who wrote the book that movie was based on plus a lot of other good stuff, including the movie 300 was based largely on one of his books. And yeah, you’ll love him. He’s amazing.

David:
Turning Pro’s one of my favorites.

Brandon:
Turning Pro. Yeah. So good. This stuff matters for everybody who wants to be successful at any area of life, whether it’s real estate, finance, business, entrepreneurship, being a real estate agent, trying to improve your marriage, doesn’t matter at all. It all helps. And so we talk a lot about that today, but before we dive into that interview, let’s get today’s quick tip.

David:
Quick tip.

Brandon:
One of the things we talk a lot about today is the importance of working your process rather than just trying to be results oriented. So in other words, like analyze a deal every single day. And so here’s today’s quick tip is, today’s quick tip is next week here on the weekend edition to the BiggerPockets Podcast, we’re going to go ahead and play a webinar that I recently did on the 90 day challenge.

Brandon:
So the quick tip is, listen to next week’s podcast here. It’s going to be episode 463, where we talk about how to get into the habit of being a successful real estate investor, how to build that identity in yourself. So quick tip, listen to the next week show and that’s today’s quick tip. All right. And that’s our quick tip. So with that said, let’s move this thing along. All right. And with that, let’s get into today’s show.

Brandon:
Our interview today with Steven Pressfield. Anything you want to say before we bring in Steven, David?

David:
What I love about this show is that it doesn’t matter who you are. You could be a real estate investor. You could be the spouse of a real estate investor. You could just be listening to us because you like Brandon’s beard. You are experiencing some form of resistance somewhere in your life. And like we talk about today, it doesn’t stop coming for you.

David:
You’re in the water and there’s a shark there that wants to eat you. And if you don’t beat that shark, it’s going to beat you. So it doesn’t matter who you are, what you’re doing in life. This applies to you. And I think this is some of the best stuff that people can talk about.

Brandon:
Amen to that. Especially the line about the beard. With that said, let’s get to the interview with Steven Pressfield. All right. Welcome to the show Mr. Steven Pressfield. How are you doing?

Steven:
It’s great to be here, Brandon. Thank you for having me. Hi, David.

David:
Steven. It’s great to meet you as well. I think this has been a long time coming. There are a huge or there is a huge crossover between BiggerPockets fans and Steven Pressfield fan. So I know that you just made a lot of people’s days being here with us.

Brandon:
Yeah, very much so.

Steven:
Well, it’s great to be with you. Let’s plunge right in here. See what we can do.

Brandon:
All right. Well, I got a lot to cover today, in fact, so as I was preparing for this interview, I like to read the books of the people I’m chatting with. And so of course I’ve read The War of Art probably 50 times. But I re-read it again. And I underlined, I was underlining, and then I read Turning Pro again and I underlined, and then I read A Man at Arms, I love that. But what I found the problem was is I was underlining every single sentence.

Brandon:
I couldn’t figure out what to talk about. Because I got a million things to talk about today. So why don’t we just start with you as a person. And then we’ll get into some of the stuff you’ve written and some of the thoughts you’ve got. Who are you? Were you born a writer? Were you always a writer? Where did that come from?

Steven:
No, I definitely was not and I was not one of those kids that was writing short stories in junior high school or anything like that. When I finally actually graduated from college and went to work, I wanted to be an advertising man. And I had no idea that there was anything other than an advertising man. And I became a copywriter and an agent in a couple of big agencies in New York.

Steven:
And I had a boss named Ed Hannibal who quit and wrote a novel and the novel was a smash and he was famous overnight. So I said to myself, “Well, why don’t I do that?” So, that was how. So I quit my job and immediately went down the toilet for about 30 years. And so a lot of ups and downs and ins and outs over those 30 years before … it was like 30 years, I think, till I actually got a novel published.

Steven:
So I definitely was not an overnight success and definitely not somebody that wanted to do it or knew how to do it. I just sort of, once I had committed and failed, I thought I’ve got to redeem myself somehow. So I just kept trying and trying and trying. I’m a big believer that talent doesn’t mean anything. It’s all about hard work.

Brandon:
Yeah. I’m right there with you. Obviously, this is a bunch of what I want to talk about today, but how did you continue writing despite not seeing that immediate success? Because this is what most people give up on. They want to lose weight and a month in, they’re like, “I don’t got abs yet, better give up.” How did you just keep writing?

Steven:
Basically I didn’t have a real backup plan that worked. There were a bunch of times when I tried to go straight, get a regular job being responsible human being, but I was always so depressed at the end of the day working at a real job that the only way I could pull myself out of it was to sit down at the keyboard and keep trying to write something. So there just was no option for me. It was nothing that worked.

Steven:
And the other part of it was that maybe after about 15 or 20 years or so of trying and failing, I finally got a little bit of a career going as a screenwriter. I had about a 10 year career on like the C list, not the A list and not the B list, but the C list, but at least I was working in my craft. So I was able to keep going, because I was making a little money and I was learning. So, that’s how. Basically I just didn’t have a plan B.

Brandon:
Didn’t you write like King Kong Lives or something like that? I remember reading that. Was that a smashing success? I know there’s a story about that.

Steven:
There’s a story in The War of Art about one of the first movies I did was called King Kong Lives, which is one of the all-time lamest movies. If you haven’t seen it, please don’t see it. But the review, I wrote it with a partner named Ron Shusett who actually was really good writer who did the first Alien, the Ridley Scott, Alien. So he was like a star. But we did this together and the review the next day in Daily Variety said, “Ronald Shusett and Steven Pressfield, we hope these are not their real names for their parents’ sake.” So it was not a smashing success.

Brandon:
So you went from wanting to write, got into this, got some negative reviews, really struggled with this stuff. What was your first like big success? Like where did you first … was that was that Bagger Vance?

Steven:
Yeah, that I suppose it would be, I don’t know how big a success it was, but at least it was published and it became a movie, even if it wasn’t a great movie, but that was the first one. So that was like I think I was 53 or 54 years old at that time.

Brandon:
Wow. And when was the New York, when did you quit your job from the copywriting to go to that [crosstalk 00:10:27]?

Steven:
That was I think 1967.

Brandon:
It took a while to get that.

Steven:
Yeah. It took a while.

Brandon:
Okay. That’s-

Steven:
I was 11 years old at that time.

Brandon:
Clearly, clearly 11. And I have my notes here. It says, “Ask me about my agent firing me over Bagger Vance.” What was that about?

Steven:
Well, I had had like I say about a 10 year career as a screenwriter and my agent was my movie agent, my screenwriting agent, and I came to him and anytime I would have a new idea, I would always run it by him. And he would tell me whether he thought it was good or bad or whatever, or if three other movie studios were already doing that same movie, whatever. So the short version is I told him, I had this idea and I loved it and I was going to do it, but it was a book, not a movie.

Steven:
And basically he said, “Well, get out of here.” It wasn’t quite as bad as that, but he had a real valid point in that he said to me, “I’ve been working for your career now for X number of years. You’re just about to do some good. If you leave and write a book, everybody’s going to forget about you. And I’m wasting all my time.” So he basically fired me. That’s his version. My version is that I fired him and we’re still friends. We’re still friends and he’s a good guy, but we had to part ways.

David:
Now, you have a similar story with Robert Redford. Isn’t that correct?

Steven:
Right. Well, that was a different story. That just that what happens in the movie business is once a director comes on board the project, the movie becomes his movie. And if you are the original writer, if you’re the first one who wrote the screenplay, or if you’re the original writer of the original book, the first thing they do is they fire you. Because they don’t want you tapping them on the shoulder saying, “Hey, I didn’t see that scene that way.”

Steven:
So I never heard from Robert Redford, but the story was that his producing partner in this movie was Jake Everett, amazing, wonderful guy who died tragically young, who also did Chariots of Fire and Gandhi, won Academy Awards for best picture like two or three times. But he called me up and he fired me. And he was really sweet about it. He said, “I’m so sorry. I feel so bad. Blah, blah, blah.”

Steven:
I stopped him. And I said, “Jake, thank you so much. This is the first time I’ve ever been fired where anybody actually told me, usually you have to read about it in the newspapers.” So he was a great gentleman to call me and fire me.

Brandon:
All right. So you got this career writing and at some point in there, you decided to go from screenplays into writing novels. And then at some point, you’re like, “I’m going to write up a non-fiction book and it turned into The War of Art.” I’m wondering if you can explain that, like why did you jump in from fiction, what you were already doing? And you already had some success that you were … you were well-known in the literary world, and then you decide to jump into non-fiction.

Brandon:
First of all, what made you want to do that? And then how was that received in beginning? Was everyone like, “Oh yeah, that’s a great idea.” Or did you get a lot of pushback?

Steven:
That’s a good question. When you’re a professional writer and you’re making money, your friends come to you and they say, “I’ve got a book in me. I want to write my grandfather’s story or whatever.” And so, I’ve found myself sitting up a number of nights till two in the morning, talking to friends and trying to psych them up to do their book. This is when we’re going to get to talk about Resistance with a capital R.

Steven:
What I would tell them over and over was the writing part is not going to be the trouble. That’s easy. The hard part is going to be sitting down to write and making yourself sit down. And I told them … And of course nobody ever did anything that I said. Nobody ever followed through. Nobody ever wrote a book. And so finally, I just said to my … one time I had a break, like a two month break.

Steven:
And I said, “I’m just going to write this down on paper. And when anybody asks me again, I’ll just say, “Here, read this.” And so, that was the Genesis of The War of Art. And I did this with my wonderful editor, Shawn Coyne, who’s still my business partner. He published it, he has his own little company and we both believed it, we thought, “This was really a wonderful little book.”

Steven:
And Shawn went to the point of doing an advanced copy that was a hardback, which had never been done at least that I knew because nobody spends that money. The bottom line was, it didn’t catch fire at all. It just went out there and pooped around and it pooped around for like about 10 years. And then finally, I got on Oprah and that was what really launched it into the stratosphere, but it did not catch fire right away. Just was a word of mouth book from one person to another.

Brandon:
I did not know Oprah did it, like pushed it out there. That’s cool. I think I first heard it probably from maybe Tim Ferris, maybe it was Ryan Holiday. I hear it constantly and over and over and over. Now here on this podcast, we’ve interviewed 400, some people and. I bet several dozen people have named that book as one of the-

Steven:
Really?

Brandon:
… transformative books in their life. Yeah. It’s real estate. This is not a real estate book. You’re talking almost from the perspective of a writer. You are writing from the perspective of a writer, but it seems to resonate with entrepreneurs and business owners. So maybe we can dive into that a little bit. I guess is this book for writers? Let’s first of all discuss that. Is it for only creative people? Or why does it seem to expand beyond those boundaries?

Steven:
It’s a great question, Brandon. When I originally wrote it, I thought, “Oh, this is only for writers.” In fact, it’s about the blank page. It’s about resisting that And my partner Shawn said, “No, no.” He said, “This goes way beyond that. This is for artists of all kinds.” And we both thought, maybe it’s for entrepreneurs, but we didn’t really know if that was going to be true or not.

Steven:
And from the feedback I’ve gotten, it really is as much for entrepreneurs. So, anybody that’s an individual outside of an organization or running an organization that has to confront the demons in their own head. So I absolutely can understand why real estate, that resistance is an enormous issue over and over and over again. And it really seems to be across the board in almost anything. In fact, can I recommend another book to you guys here-

Brandon:
Please. Please.

Steven:
… for your audience? It’s a friend of mine. His name is Nick Murray. Have you ever heard of him?

Brandon:
Uh-huh (negative).

Steven:
He is a coach to financial planners. This is going to resonate I’m sure with your listeners. And apparently in the financial planning business, a big part of it is prospecting, is cold calling. And people go out of business individuals because they can’t do it. And so Nick wrote this wonderful book called The Game of Numbers and basically what he says, “It’s all about overcoming that.”

Steven:
And basically what he says is, “Just make five calls a day. Don’t ask yourself, “Do they succeed? Did I get a new client? Did they go …” Just make five and then make five the next day and the next day.” And as the title of the book again is The Game of Numbers. And what he means by that is when the numbers get high enough, you’re going to start to get leads and it’s going to work. But it’s all about a technique of overcoming your own self sabotage, your own fear, your own self-doubt.

Brandon:
Yeah. That’s so good. And that’s what it is. I always say that phrase, everything’s a funnel and I mean it in the exact same concept. It’s like everything just funnels down. If you want to whatever, if you want to buy a real estate deal, you got to make a number of offers, in order to make those offers, you got to analyze a bunch, then you got get that leads. You got to do the cold calling or whatever you’re going to do.

Brandon:
And whether you’re trying to build a real estate business or anything, it’s like how many people are going to walk by your store? How many are going to come inside your store? How many are going to buy something? Everything just trickles down to a funnel. And so what people tend to do in my opinion, and I think your work supports this is like, they want the outcome. They see the shiny object, the sale, and that’s what they …

Brandon:
And then they get down and they get depressed and they have that negative self-talk, “I didn’t get that sale like that guy did. I didn’t buy that deal like that guy did.” So by looking at it as a game, which is something I say all the time. In fact, one of my friends yelled at me the other day, “It’s not a game.” I’m like, “It is a game, because if I view it as a game, I’m playing the game. I’m not trying to win the result. I’m just playing the game. And I know that I’m going to win the result as long as I keep playing the game.” Is that what you’re getting at there?

Steven:
Yeah. In fact, let me ask you, Brandon, in the real estate business, what form does resistance take in people’s heads?

Brandon:
Yeah. That’s a great question.

David:
That’s maybe one of the greatest questions that we’ve ever been asked.

Steven:
Can you answer it?

Brandon:
In fact, all those things can be helpful, but for years, I just did the same. I would just go read the same books over and over even. And I would just keep studying and keep learning. And I think a lot of people get stuck in that rather than how many offers did you make this week? Like did you actually go to an open house and meet with somebody and then put your pen on paper and sign to buy a property? Probably not, most people. Most people are just … So resistance for me has largely been education I think a lot of our followers. David, what do you think?

David:
I think when you’re talking about being a real estate agent, the resistance comes in the fuss of facing rejection. You don’t want to tell people you’re an agent. You don’t want to ask them for their business. You don’t want to go hold the open house where you’re going to have to talk to the people who come walking in just like the real estate investors are afraid to go to the open house where they’re going to have to admit their ignorance to the agent.

David:
Everybody’s feeling the same things. And I think for the real estate investor, I’m going through a process where I’m looking at a deal myself, it’s the biggest deal I’ve ever bought. It’s over $15 million. It’s a different asset class than I’m used to. I believe I have the right advisors. The numbers work out. It makes total financial sense. And there is still this huge pit of cold fear sitting in my stomach saying, “But what if, what if all these things happen that I’m not even thinking about right now?”

David:
And it’s making peace with the fact that I’ve faced that cold pit numerous times in my past, once you get past it, you never think about it again. And I just have to remind myself that this is a part of the process of doing something new or scary and often good. Some of the best decisions I’ve made in life, I had to get on the other side of this fear that we’re talking about now.

Steven:
That’s very interesting. The equivalent of education, Brandon, in writing is research. People say, “I want to write a book about ancient Britain and Queen Boudica who fought the … Well, I better start researching.” Cut to a year later, how many words do you have on paper? None. But it’s a distraction, obviously. That’s one way that resistance manifests itself. It distracts you just like the internet distracts you, the algorithms distracts you, that you go down rabbit holes. Yeah. So, that’s definitely one form of resistance along with cold fear like David was talking about.

Brandon:
Yeah. Well, why don’t we introduce some of these, we’ll call them characters from The War of Art and from Turning Pro. First of all, there’s the resistance. Can you just define, like how do you define resistance for those who haven’t read the book? And obviously everyone should read these books. But how do you define resistance? And then I want to talk about the muse. I want to talk about the professional and the amateur. The four characters that I see in that [crosstalk 00:22:43]. Let’s start with resistance.

Steven:
As a writer, when you sit down each morning and you’re looking at this and you’re looking at the blank screen, you can feel of a negative force radiating off that blank screen. And it says to you, “You’re a bum, you’re a loser. This idea you have is a terrible idea. Nobody’s going to be interested in it. You’re too old, you’re too young. You’re too fat. You’re too thin. You’re in the wrong ethnicity, blah, blah, blah.”

Steven:
So resistance is that negative force that anytime we try to move from a lower level to a higher level, let’s say we want to lose weight. We want to go to the gym. We want to get in shape. We want to run an Ironman. We want to get over a rough patch in our relationship. We want to take a moral stand. We want to go from being a coward in a certain position to standing up for what’s right. Resistance is this force of nature. It’s a force of nature, just like gravity.

Steven:
And it will intervene to try to stop us from moving to that higher level. And why it’s there? I don’t know. Why did God put it there? I don’t know. They don’t teach you about it in school. Nobody tells you about it, but it is there and it is real and it will kill you. And so, I always say in The War of Art, one of the first things I say is that it’s not the writing that’s the hard part. It’s the sitting down to write. And what stops you from sitting down is resistance.

Steven:
So that’s my definition of resistance. It’s a very real force. Even though we can’t see it, we can’t touch it, we can’t feel it, it’s there. And it has its own intelligence and it is nuanced. It is diabolical. The voice in your head will try to seduce you, will try to terrify you, will undermine you, sabotage you. And a it’s extremely formidable enemy.

Steven:
I always say in writing a story, if you’re writing the movie Alien or the movie Jaws or the movie Terminator, the villain is a metaphor for resistance. If you think about those three villains, the alien, the Terminator, the shark, aspects of them are they cannot be reasoned with no matter … you cannot appeal to them on any level. They are a force of nature and they will never stop coming until they have defeated you, until they have killed you. And that’s what we’re up against.

Steven:
And I think a mistake that anybody makes in any creative or entrepreneurial venture is to not take this force seriously enough to just think, “Oh, I can handle it. No problem.” It’s like an alcoholic saying, “Oh yeah, I can handle alcohol. No problem. I’ll have … no problem.” You can’t handle it. You can’t handle it. And you have to have a plan and a program and a whole mindset to, just like in AA, you have a whole concept of how to handle it one day at a time, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

Steven:
And that’s the reality for me, anyway, in my experience as a writer about this, and I can tell you from the thousands of emails I’ve gotten, it’s everybody else’s experience too.

Brandon:
Very much. I feel like what made such a big impact on me, The War of Art, what made such a big impact was that concept of resistance. Once we label it as like it’s a thing out there, it is a thing that is a force of nature. All of a sudden in my daily life, I don’t think a day goes by for the last, I don’t know, probably five or six, seven years since I first read The War of Art that I don’t say to myself, “Is this resistance? Is this …” It is resistance.

Steven:
By the way, I say the exact same thing, Brandon.

Brandon:
Okay, good. So it’s like once we identify what that thing is, now it’s a lot easier for me to go, “Oh, that’s what that is. Okay. Now, let me overcome that. Let me work. Let me fight.” It’s hard to fight an enemy that you don’t know exists. But once it exists, it becomes something that I can actually go and fight. And so my question for you is, how do you personally fight resistance? What have you found successful in your life to overcome that on a day to day to day basis?

Steven:
First of all, exactly, like you said Brandon, once you give a name to it and one of the ways that resistance fools us is it appears as a voice in our head. And the mistake that we make is we think that that’s us, we think, “Oh, those are my thoughts.” When I hear the thoughts, I’m not good enough. It’s been done before. You’ll never do it as well as Hemingway did. When we think it’s our thoughts, that it’s objective, reality, then it unmans us. It unnerves us.

Steven:
But if we can say to ourselves, “Oh, this is just bullshit. This is resistance. This is not my voice. I’m not thinking these thoughts.” It’s like the snake in the Garden of Eden. This is trying to seduce me, it’s trying to scare me. And then it’s not that hard to dismiss it. And then we just say to ourselves, “Okay, just sit down and do the work.” If we have to go to that open house, if we have to pull the trigger on a loan or whatever it is, just make that move or in my case, sit down and do my work.

Steven:
But the concept of Turning Pro, we can talk about that. That’s another aspect of how to overcome resistance. But another thing that I’ve found that helps me tremendously, it’s just habit. Simple. It’s a really homely, here’s another book I’d recommend by Twyla Tharp, the great choreographer. It’s The Creative Habit is the name of the book. And she just talks about how there’s a famous story in, I cite this in The War of Art where somebody asks the great writer, Somerset Maugham, if he wrote when inspiration struck him, or if he wrote on a schedule.

Steven:
And he said, “I write only when inspiration strikes me.” He says, “Fortunately, it strikes me every morning at 9:30 sharp.”

Brandon:
I love it.

Steven:
So what he was talking about was two things. One was being a professional and the other was habit. And I think there’s no substitute for doing the same thing at the same time every day, or at least creating that space. When Michael Jordan would go to practice and do a shoot around, it was at the exact same time at the same place. And he did the same thing. If you ever watch Steph Curry do his warmups or do his routine, that’s an amazing thing that he does. And it’s habit and habit is a mighty ally in the war against resistance.

Brandon:
That’s so good. I don’t want talk about my writing stuff too much here, but I’ll put this into a picture, a new analogy. So when I first wrote my very first book, I wrote a book called the book on Investing in Real Estate With No (and low) Money Down. It’s about creative investing. Anyway, it took me a year and a half to write that book. It took me a year and a half. It’s only 50,000 words. Took me a year and a half because I’d pick it up one day when I felt inspired, I’d write for a little bit, I’d stop.

Brandon:
Pick it back up a month later, write for a week, solid and stop for a while. You’ve seen that story play out many times. It took me a year and a half and it was fine. I got done with it. The next time I wrote one, I was like, you know what? I can’t go through that again. And then I felt guilty every day and I know I should write and I’m not going to. The second time I wrote, I wrote a book called The Book on Rental Property Investing.

Brandon:
And I sat down and I outlined the entire thing in 100 chunks. And I put each one on a note card. And then every day for 100 days straight, I woke up, took my note card and said, “Oh, this is what I’m writing on today.” And whether I felt like it, it didn’t matter. Just this is what I wrote on this note card. And every day at 5:30 AM, I wrote. And 100 days later, I had 140,000 words written in 100 days. And I was like, that was the easiest thing I’ve ever done.

Brandon:
So every book since then, I’ve followed that same process. And it’s amazing. It’s exactly like the quote you’d have said. When I just showed up, the first minute or two that my head’s going, “You’re not going to write today. You’re too tired. You need more coffee.” But as soon as I got into it, guess what? It just showed up. The creative juices started flowing because I showed up and I made it happen. And so that’s been a huge thing in my life.

Brandon:
And that’s why today at BiggerPockets, we do something called the 90 day challenge. Not that 90 days are special, but it just says every day for 90 days, you’re going to get up and analyze a real estate deal or make it up. Just do something in the space. Because if you show up, that’s the habit we’re built.

Steven:
Yeah. What you’re really doing is talking about looking at something as a professional and not as an amateur. An amateur does something when he or she feels like it. It’s about what you were just saying when you started, Brandon. Well, I don’t feel like it today, so I’m not going to do it. But a professional doesn’t care how he or she feels. That’s irrelevant in the professional’s mind. Professional shows up and does it just like you did.

Steven:
And I think 90 days is they talk about how long does it take to create a new habit? And I’ve heard different things, 28 days. But it’s something like that between 28 and 90. And you just have to force yourself like you did and make a commitment to yourself. I’m going to do this every day. And it does work. It’s people are always looking for like a magic bullet, but the magic of something like that is that it’s so ordinary, it’s boring. There’s no glamor to it at all.

Steven:
It’s like, nobody wants a camera on you while you’re doing that. It’s just you go in a room, you close the door, and 120 days later, you got something.

Brandon:
Yeah. That’s really good. Do you find, and I know David, you can cut me off at any time here. I’m asking all the questions. I’m hogging the mic today. But Steven, do you feel like when somebody master … I don’t want to say master. I don’t know if we ever master resistance, maybe we do. But when somebody is really good at overcoming it, for example, you in writing, you can sit down probably, and you’ve been doing it long enough. You know how to fight the enemy of resistance and you can just write a book now.

Brandon:
Does that translate to other areas of your life, do you find? Or are you better now at fitness because you’re better at writing or is it a whole new battle every single time in all the different areas that resistance shows up in you?

Steven:
That’s a great question. It does translate. But again, resistance is diabolical. And when you try to use it to go to another area, like for instance, we were talking about this new book of mine, A Man at Arms, we just mentioned it. I’ve been for the last, I don’t know, four months or so, I’ve been promoting the book, going on podcasts and things like that. And that’s a whole new thing for me, completely out of my comfort zone.

Steven:
Prior to that, I always thought, “Oh, resistance only happens when you’re writing a book.” But now I say, “Oh my God, it also happens when you’re trying to market it.” And so that’s been really hard for me. It’s really been like an out of body experience. But because I know what resistance is, I say to myself, “That voice that’s telling me I shouldn’t do this, that’s resistance. That’s not me.” So just dismiss it and do it. But it’s been hard. It’s hard every day, but it’s hard every day for me even as a writer, even something I’ve been doing for 50 years.

Brandon:
That’s actually reassuring to know that it’s hard even for Steven Pressfield.

Steven:
It is hard. It’s hard for everybody.

Brandon:
Yeah. One thing I find that works in my life to overcome the resistance, because again, I find it every day and I fight it every day, is I find ways to obligate myself to other people for things, this has worked really well for me. So for example, I know that I should work out. I just don’t like working out. I don’t like doing that. So I hired a personal trainer to come to my house three times a week. He’s downstairs at my house. I have no choice, but to go down there because now I feel stupid because he’s there.

Brandon:
So that’s another way that if I have to go down and lift the same weights that are down in my garage area, I can go do it by myself. I don’t need him, but I won’t. I know myself. Knowing yourself, I think is a lot of this. Knowing what’s going to fight resistance. What’s worked in other cases and what can you apply now?

Steven:
Yeah, that works for me too. That’s a great trick. We got to use every trick we can come up with to out with this enemy because the enemy is relentless and it’s diabolical.

David:
I think something that Steven said I’ve never heard that I really like had to do with the villain in a movie that we’re watching or story we’re being told. What makes the best villains the best villains is that they’re clever. They typically require you to grow in and of yourself to overcome them. The hero doesn’t have what they need at the beginning of the story to overcome the villain. And that there’s no compromising with them.

David:
You cannot sit down with this person and reason your way through a scenario. They’re a dictator, they will just blast through anybody that opposes them unless you blast through them. And I started thinking about the worst habits I have in my life, where I have resistance are often things that are still around because I’ve tried to reason with it. I’ve tried to say, “Well, I won’t completely overcome this thing. So how can I work with it to limit the damage it does to me?”

David:
A light bulb went off when you said that. I’m curious, Steven, if we can get you to expand on, if there’s maybe something in every great story that we hear that’s trying to teach us something about ourselves and this enemy, like you’re mentioning that we’re calling the resistance.

Steven:
There’s always an enemy even if you go back to St. George and the Dragon or Grendel, or the myths, they always have to go up against the Minotaur and the labyrinth or whatever it is. They go up against some kind of monster and the monster can’t be reasoned with. And the other thing that’s really interesting, like in a story, and this is pretty much of a rule and a principle, a storytelling principle, is there’ll be an external villain that the hero has to fight, but there also will be a villain inside the heroes head that resonates with that villain.

Steven:
Like if you think about the sheriff in Jaws, he’s got the shark, but he also is afraid of water if you remember that. Roy Scheider, the character, and almost always, a hero always has a flaw and the flaw usually relates to the villain and they have to like you said, David, the hero has to grow, the hero at the start cannot defeat the villain. Doesn’t have the chops, doesn’t have the tools, has to evolve, has to grow, has to face something.

Steven:
And usually he has to face that demon inside their own head. So it’s like a two-pronged hero. And that demon in our head is resistance just like the external villain is a metaphor for resistance.

David:
Yeah. So I’m thinking like in the Lion King, Simba’s got to fight Scar, but Simba his guilt over what he believes was his fault that his father died is what stops him from engaging with Scar. And like you said, the villain and the hero’s problem are resonating on the same frequency. It was Scar that put it in his head it’s his fault and Scar that has him believing he doesn’t have what it takes. But we see what happens as soon as Simba does go engage. It’s a quick fight and he’s blasted through.

Brandon:
That’s really good.

Steven:
Yeah. And again, you can’t reason with that other fear either. It always comes down to plunging into the fight. But another thing that’s true about resistance is that it really has no strength of its own. The only strength that it has is our fear of it. So, once we step into that fear, it’s like, it goes away. It’s like you were saying, Brandon, when you sat down to write, first few minutes were tough, but then the next thing you knew you had broken through it.

Steven:
To me, it’s a little bit like diving into a cold swimming pool. That first shock is really hairy, but once you’ve taken a few strokes, it goes away. So it’s the same thing with resistant. Easy to say. It’s easy for us to say on this, but it’s really hard of course, when you’re facing it.

Brandon:
Yeah. That’s really good. You mentioned casually earlier, and I just want to reinforce it here, and it’s something from the book. You say that resistance only shows up when moving from a lower fear to a higher one. What do you mean by that? Why doesn’t it show up when you’re just trying to sit on the couch and watch TV?

Steven:
It’s a good question. I don’t know. Because it’s the devil, because it’s a diabolical force. If we say to ourselves, “Oh I’m going to start a heroin habit tomorrow.” There’s going to be no resistance whatsoever. But if we say to ourselves, “I’m moving to Bombay and I’m going to work with Mother Teresa’s foundation, I’m going to give away everything, my money,” all of a sudden, we’re going to get a lot of resistance. Or I’m going to start a new business. I’m going to make a big investment. I’m going to pull the trigger on a daring enterprise.

Steven:
If you think about some of the great heroes that we admire, not that I admire Charles Lindbergh for his politics, but I got to say, imagine what guts it took to fly across the Atlantic solo in 1927 when already like six or seven guys had already died trying? And so talk about the resistance that he must’ve had. It’s amazing. And that’s why he’s a hero.

Brandon:
That’s why he’s a hero. So what are the answers to the resistance, like you said, is Turning Pro. And we talked about the difference there, and you’ve got a whole book called Turning Pro, which is awesome. I have that here in front of me as well. What does that mean to turn pro and then specifically, does that happen? Do you feel like, is it a switch or is it a gradual thing that happens over time?

Steven:
That’s another great question. I think for me, well, first let me see if I can explain it. Sometimes when we try to ask ourselves, “Well, why can’t I overcome this resistance problem?” And we might come up with different ways that are judgmental. We might say, “Well, I’m a bad person or I’m sick. I need therapy, whatever.” Those are really unproductive ways of looking at it. Because they’re judgmental. They just make it harder for us.

Steven:
But what really helped me was I said to myself, “The reason I’m failing at overcoming resistance is because I’m thinking like an amateur and not like a pro. I’m thinking like a weekend warrior. I’m thinking like a dabbler. I’m not fully committed.” And so the great thing about Turning Pro, the concept of Turning Pro is, it’s free. You don’t need to get a certificate. You don’t have to go to take a course. All you have to do is flip the switch in your head and you say, “Okay, I’m now going to think of myself like Kobe Bryant or Michael Jordan, or Tom Brady.

Steven:
And when I hit adversity, instead of folding, like I always do, I’m going to keep going. I’m going to show up every day, I’m going to do my work. I’m going to do all the things that a professional does.” And to me, that was a great way of reframing the issue because it took blame out of. I didn’t blame myself anymore. And I just thought, I’m going to react like a professional from now on.

Steven:
A lot of times people like in the arts or in anything else have a hard time convincing themselves that I’m an artist, I’m a writer. They can’t say, “I’m a painter.” They can’t say it because they’re waiting for the world to validate them. But you have to say it just to yourself. I’m a writer. Nobody’s ever published my shit. Everybody hates me. They think I’m a bum, but I’m committed. I’m a professional. And when you turn that switch makes all the difference.

Steven:
Now, back to what you said, Brandon, this is a one-time thing or a multi thing. I could tell you a few moments for me when I “turned pro,” but there were many of them because it does seem to be an incremental process. You think you’ve overcome it. And then three months later, you’re back slid and you realize you’ve fallen into something or you’ve taken it to a higher level, but now the demons are higher too. Now, the new problems present themselves and you have to recommit.

Steven:
So I do think it’s an incremental process over time and it never ends. Right now I’m starting a new project. I’m in the throws of resistance. It’s beating the hell out of me. I have to remind myself just like I’ve done all … you’re a professional. You could do this. Don’t listen to that voice. But it’s a fight that never ends.

David:
I think part of what I feel the resistance does with me is it spreads this lie that, look, once you get past me, it’s going to be clear skies and smooth sailing, and you won’t have resistance anymore as soon as you overcome where we are, which usually happens at the point that I know victory is imminent. I’ve done the hard work and I’m getting over the hump. I get this feeling like, yeah, that’s what it was all about.

David:
Now, that I’ve accomplished what I needed, I’m in paradise. And then you get to the next level, like what you just said, Steven, and bigger Minotaurs come after you and stronger enemies come after you. And you find yourself right back in the same shoes where you thought you were stronger, but now somebody put more weights on the bar and it’s harder again. Can you speak to what your relationship has been like that as you have ascended to the level that you have both in Hollywood and in literature?

Steven:
Well, I don’t know how far I’ve ascended, but it’s definitely that sort of a scenario, an incremental thing. I was just talking to, I did a podcast with a guy named Marcus Aurelius Anderson. Have you ever heard of him at all?

Brandon:
No.

David:
Marcus Aurelius. Interesting.

Steven:
Marcus Aurelius Anderson. And what happened to him was he became paralyzed, physically paralyzed from the neck down and he had to deal with this thing mentally. And at some point, he gave into it, accepted it, and suddenly his fingers started to move. He got something back in his fingers and little by little, things started to come back. But the interesting thing he said to me was, “As soon as I started to get complacent and I thought, “I’ve turned a corner,” his body would backslide on him and he couldn’t do what in other words on some …

Steven:
I don’t know what level it’s on, the soul level, some metaphysical level when we back slide and we think, “Oh, I’ve got it made. I turned the corner. I’ve been to heaven now.” Then some, I don’t know what, some goddess or whatever looks down on us and says, “Oh no, no, no. You’re not getting away with that.” And it pulls the plug on us and we find ourselves back where we were.

Steven:
Like in the Odyssey, in Homer’s Odyssey, which is go to the classic hero’s journey for Odysseus, many times, he thought, “Oh, I’ve got it made now.” And then invariably, he was fired back a month beyond where he was and had to do it all over again. So there’s a lot to that, the dragon has to be slain every morning anew. Sorry to deliver the bad news, you guys.

David:
Here’s why I liked that, Steven. Brandon and I have been talking a lot to the listeners of this show about the importance of identity and how when you see yourself a certain way, many of the things that we were describing under the resistance go away. So it started where Brandon and I were having a conversation with a guy who’s ridiculously fit in his spa named Gabe Hamill, who we’ve had on the show.

David:
And Brandon was basically … he was thinking, “I bet it’s not even that hard for Gabe to say no to sugar.” And he asked him, and Gabe’s like, “Yeah, I don’t want sugar. It would make me sick. The thought of it is disgusting as you just mentioned it right now.” Which is very different than somebody who is fighting all the time to try to not eat sugar. And after talking with Gabe, what came out of this was that Gabe identifies himself as the type of person who only eats organic, healthy food, and anything outside of that identity he almost has a resistance to that, to the thing that would drown us.

David:
And so we started talking about how most of the time we try to change our habits before we change our identity. We do not see ourselves as a professional. But we’re trying to get the results of a professional. And when it doesn’t work, we’re very discouraged. So what you’re describing here is sort of, it’s just acknowledging and submitting to the fact that it’s always going to be hard. There’s always going to be something that tries to fight you.

David:
But you’re always going to win when you engage. The only way you lose is when you don’t take up arms, you don’t take the fight. When you try to reason with the enemy, that that’s actually what you’re doing to fuel it or empower it. And I’m so glad you’re here because you have a lot of credibility with what you’re saying. And you’re really lending that to the argument that you’ve got to identify as a professional. You got to do the work of a professional.

David:
You have to see yourself as one, you have to start work at the same time and honor your word to yourself. And that’s really where the victory comes from.

Steven:
And of course, I agree with that completely David. And Brandon, you said something that touches on that too earlier. It’s the idea that a professional is in it for the long haul and is not in it for the immediate score. It’s a lifetime commitment and what do they call it? Process, not product, where it’s thinking of whatever you’re doing as a practice that you’re going to engage in for the rest of your life, like a yoga practice or a martial arts practice or a real estate practice, whatever it is.

Steven:
And the victories come as a by-product of the practice. And it’s very hard to keep that mindset. And it’s real easy to backslide, particularly when you have a success, because then you think, “I’ve got it now, no problem.” And then you slack off and you get walled from behind. But the professional I think is in it for the long haul and is playing the long game.

Brandon:
That’s one of the reasons I don’t like diets very much, and there’s nothing wrong with any of these, but the keto diet and the Atkins diet and all these diets that people are going to … they’re going to go on for a short period of time, go on a 30 day diet. They’re going to go on a six month diet. But the way I look at it, I’m like, I’ve done all of them and they’ve probably all worked just fine.

Brandon:
But as soon as you’re done with the diet, you go back to the way you were, you gain everything back. And so the way I look at it today is like, is this a way that I can eat for the next 20 years of my life? Because I’m not in this to lose five pounds and gain it back next month. Is this something I can hold on to? So things like, can I go keto for the next 10 years? I cannot. I like my carbs too much. Can I do this for 10 years? Can I do that?

Brandon:
And so, there’s certain things that I know, okay. Yes, I can do that for 10 years, for 20 years, for the rest of my life, because that’s just becomes a change. And that’s where I think the people who lose the weight that they want, the people that run the business that they want, they’re thinking 20, 30 years. They’re not thinking three months. All right. I want to shift here before we get out of here. It would be a shame to not ask some questions about writing to the writer.

Brandon:
So first of all, the new book is called the A Man at Arms. It is phenomenal, a great piece of fiction. I want to ask a few questions about how you came up with the idea. First of all, why historical fiction? Was it just like, hey, out of a hat, like this would be fun, or was this like stew it in your brain for years, I want to write in this time period. Where did that come from?

Steven:
It’s a mystery, Brandon. I’ve asked myself that too. It was definitely nothing I ever planned. My first book was The Legend of Bagger Vance, it was about golf. And after that, it’s like, what do you do after that? Where do you go? You write a comic book? I had no clue, but I just loved to read about the ancient world. So my second book was Gates of Fire. That was about the battle of Thermopylae, the 300 Spartans. And I wound up doing like five books in that realm.

Steven:
I don’t know why. I just was called to it. I believe in the muse. I believe that there’s something that inspires you. And so I don’t know. I just feel very … maybe it’s previous lives. Maybe I had a previous life, but I love the ancient world.

David:
Let me ask you Steven, when it comes to the ancient world, do you have an idea of what it is about it that you love, what the elements of it that excite you the most are?

Steven:
I think I do. I haven’t dug deep enough, but one thing is that in that world, words like honor and nobility and integrity actually meant something whereas they don’t today, in my opinion. And so to go back and talk, I also like the idiom. I liked the way people talked back then, at least when you read it in the books, that more formal, more … you could express yourself. And the idea of masculinity was much clearer in those days and femininity, I think.

Steven:
And then another aspect, I don’t want to give you so long blathering on answer, David, but I feel like a lot of the isms that have come in the modern world and even go back to well, communism or fascism or even psychotherapy or even Christianity in its basic sense of like imitation of Christ. The concept is, if I can only change myself to be a certain way, everything’s going to be wonderful. If I could live my life like Jesus, if I had a pure heart.

Steven:
Or in the communist world, it would be, if I could be a pure man of the people, share everything that I had, et cetera, then life would be wonderful if we had a communal world. Or psychotherapy where they say, “Well, if I could only dig into my past, confront my neurosis, whatever happened when I was a kid, then everything will be wonderful.” And to me that’s complete bullshit. And it just drives us insane in the modern world, I think. Whereas when you go back to the ancient world, I know I’m giving you a really long answer.

Brandon:
No. This is good.

Steven:
If you read somebody like Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War, about the war between Athens and Sparta, he saw a human nature in a really stark reality terms. When people would massacre each other in the streets, he would just describe it saying like human nature, being what it is, of course, they went out there and they killed each other’s children in front of, et cetera. But that’s what I like about the ancient world. It seemed to me it’s refreshing that there’s no sort of if only we could change to such and such.

Steven:
And even the gods in the ancient world were very human. It was Zeus, it was Aphrodite, it was Ares, it was whatever. And they cheated on their wives, they were cowards, they stole, and I think that the ancient world, people saw human nature for much closer to what it really is, I think. And that’s one of the things I like about it.

David:
That’s an incredible answer.

Brandon:
When you were writing A Man at Arms, did anything surprised you about this time period? Because I know for me when I’m reading it, so for those who haven’t read it yet, it takes place around the beginning of the, I don’t know, we call it the eight where … after the time of Christ. So right after that, Christian Church has started to grow. I’ve read the Bible before and I’ve read that world a little bit. But never like how the world functions.

Brandon:
So as I’m reading the book, there’s a ton of stuff. I’m like, “Oh, that makes sense that they would do it that way,” or, “Oh, funny. I didn’t realize that wouldn’t just be an easy thing. So anything for you when you were writing it and researching it that surprised you about this time period or anything that just stood out to you as interesting about that turn of the world?

Steven:
Well, I’m so steeped in that time period, Brandon, that there wasn’t too many surprises.

Brandon:
I guess. Yeah.

Steven:
But I just thought it was a fascinating time period. Now, the book takes place like 20 years after the crucifixion when the Roman empire, they’re the bad guys. Again, we were talking about the villain being like resistance. And how you can’t reason with the villain and the villain wants to … that was what the Roman empire was then. They had the legions, they had the empire, they had the organization.

Steven:
And so this fledgling Christian movement that was only in a few scattered places was under relentless pressure to be exterminated. So, I just thought that was a great dramatic time. And I had this one particular hero, this character of mine that’s been in other books. And I wanted to insert him in the middle of that good guys and bad guys world.

Brandon:
You mentioned in the book, I think it was in the beginning the character’s name, is it Telamon? Am I saying that correctly?

Steven:
Telamon. Yeah.

Brandon:
Telamon. Yeah. It’s super like manly code of honor. I don’t know. I love the guy. So you’ve had him in other books. How did that work? And why did you pick him as like the character? What stood out with him? And you said it was in other books as well. Explain that if you would.

Steven:
Sometimes characters come to you when you’re writing and they come fully formed. They appear on the page and they’ve already got their own story and their own point of view and you didn’t even plan it. And this character of Telamon was one of those characters. I think of him like Clint Eastwood’s Man With No Name or like a solitary Samurai that is a one man killing machine of the ancient world. And I loved him because when he came on the page, he had a philosophy, he had a very dark philosophy.

Steven:
He didn’t commit to any flags. He didn’t believe in any course, he was just an individual alone in the world trying to find his own code of honor. And I found that to be very modern. Even though it’s in the ancient world, I thought, that’s the way the three of us probably live our lives. And everybody that’s listening to this show is trying to navigate as an individual. What do I believe? What is good? How do I take care of my family? What’s honorable, am I a good person? That kind of thing. So that was why I’ve always loved this guy and I wanted to bring him back.

Brandon:
Yeah. That’s cool. Do you form your characters ahead of time? In other words, do you write down like this as this character, this is what he does. This is the plot line I’m going to do? Or are you more of a figure it out as you go as you’re writing? You’re like, “This is a part of his life.”

Steven:
It’s a little bit of both with me. I definitely one of the things that you learn as a screenwriter concept is start at the end, always know what the climax is and what the final scene is, and then work backwards from that. So a lot of times, I like … with A Man at Arms, I did that. I knew how it was going to end, but I didn’t really know what the characters were going to do along the way. And I didn’t know what they were going to say or what was going to happen to them.

Steven:
I just knew I had to get them to a certain place at a certain time and carrying certain things. So I do try to plan it, but a lot of stuff happens along the way that are happy accidents, you hope.

David:
Bob Ross quote there. But there you go.

Brandon:
So let’s go, I don’t want to spend too much time harping on this, the writing thing, because not all of our audience cares. But I think this translates to so many areas of life. So I’m going to keep asking, plus whatever, my show, I’m going to be selfish here and bug you about it. So when you’re writing, do you sit down and go like, “All right, today, this is my 1000 words, or this is my chunk today,” or are you like blank page, “They started walking down the road,” and then you’re just figuring it out from there?

Steven:
It’s a good question. Usually, like I say, I start at the finish, I know where I’m going. I try to block out like you did your three by five cards. And I do things like that too. I also know that I’m a believer in three act structure, act one, act two, act three. And that there’s a dividing point at the end of act one. And at the end of act two, and there’s a point in the middle of act two, midpoint of the story.

Steven:
And I try to structure it around that and I’ll ask myself, “What is my act one curtain? What’s the mid point?” And when I say what, I mean, what scene? What’s going to happen? Do I have the Terminator show up driving an 18 wheel then he crashes? Whatever. And I will block that out. But day to day and it varies. I’m probably getting into the weeds here too much, Brandon. But definitely like on a first draft is very different from every other draft when you’re filling a blank page.

Steven:
I will then just turn off the self sensor and just spew stuff. And my goal is just to get from page one to the end, no matter how crappy it is, just to fill the page, fill the book, and then I’ll go back and hopefully there will have been happy accidents along the way. I’ll have had, “Oh, a great scene in act one, two great scenes in act two, and one in act three. I love them.” And I’ll build out from there and try and fill it in and make it work. But each day I never judge myself on what I’m doing. All I want to do is keep moving and yeah.

Brandon:
That’s really good.

Steven:
That’s how I do it, anyway.

Brandon:
Well, so on that note then how much gets left on the editing floor when you’re writing a novel? Do you feel like-

Steven:
A lot.

Brandon:
A lot. Okay. So it’s not like 95% of it was perfect. And you decided to clean it up a little bit.

Steven:
No. A lot gets left. Like on Gates of Fire, I’ve told this story on another podcast. My first draft of Gates of Fire was 800 pages long. And the book came out to be 375. So a lot has to go.

David:
Steven, I got to ask, does it hurt that you had that much content that didn’t?

Steven:
The process hurts, but losing the things? No, because I felt like in the end, it was better. It was something that was weight I had to get rid of.

David:
You’re such a better man than me. I’d be looking to say, “How do I take that and make another book out of those 500 pages?”

Brandon:
That’s funny. Yeah. Well, it’s one thing David and I both struggle with is writing too long of books. But when I read, like for example, The War of Art or Turning Pro, those are not long books, I don’t know how many words there are, but they can’t be more than what, 20,000 words? I don’t know.

Steven:
Yeah. They’re very short.

Brandon:
But it’s every word is intentional and it’s there for a reason. And I think a lot of that comes out in the editing and in the like, what can I remove to make this more essential? Which is a good analogy for life.

Steven:
Definitely. For sure. I did that for sure. Absolutely.

David:
Yeah. I feel like when I read Steven’s books, they come across like the wording is so powerful, Steven, that you come across like the hero in your stories. Brandon and I are flailing about hoping that we connect with the enemy. And you’re that one punch monk that’s mastered Kung Fu and you can knock somebody out with a short novel.

Steven:
Well, you’re very kind. I actually feel like the hero in The War of Art is the reader in my mind. They’re the one that’s facing the dragon.

Brandon:
I think you’re the Yoda. You’re the guide, the one that’s saying, the Obi-Wan Kenobi who will teach you how to fight. It’s really good, man. Well, we got to get you out of here in a few minutes, but before we do, I guess why don’t we move over to our last segment of the show? It’s time for our famous four. All right. The famous four are the same four questions we ask every guest every week and we’re going toss them at you right now, Steven.

Brandon:
First one I got is, there a habit or a trait in your life that you’re currently working on, something you’re trying to improve yourself on right now?

Steven:
That’s a great question. My diet is not so great. There’s a lot of things in there that I’m trying to cut out. So, definitely I’m trying to work on that. And like you say, can you transfer this resistance concept over to that? You can, but it’s hard. It’s hard.

Brandon:
Yeah. I’m there as well all the time.

David:
I think Brandon has lost 40 pounds in two or three years. Is that right, Brandon?

Brandon:
I did lose 40 pounds. Yeah. Though here’s the funny thing, it goes-

Steven:
Good for you, Brandon.

Brandon:
Thanks. Yeah. It goes back to exactly what we’re talking about earlier though is, it’s not, in fact I wrote this on my Instagram yesterday. It’s not like significantly easier for me. Every day I still like want to go and eat pancakes for breakfast every morning and I want to have a pizza for lunch and I eat my kids’ mac and cheese, and I’m like, I just want to eat mac and cheese. And it’s like it went away.

Brandon:
But it’s easier. I don’t go to Starbucks every single day. I don’t have that inclination. So it gets better, but it never gets easy, I feel like. So, that perfectly translates to pretty much every area of life. Number two, David.

David:
Also, Brandon, if you ever needed to lose another five to eight pounds, you could shave that beard and boom, you’ve made some [crosstalk 01:04:57].

Brandon:
I could. I’ll work on that.

David:
All right. Steven, do you have a favorite business book?

Steven:
Wow. Well, my friend Nick Murray’s book that I recommended before, The Game of Numbers, is definitely my favorite business book. And again, it’s really about resistance. It’s exactly just in the metaphor, the field is financial planning and cold calling and that stuff. That’s my favorite book. The Game of Numbers.

David:
I’m going to read that book. We’ll see if we can get him on the show.

Brandon:
Yeah. Me too. Yeah.

Steven:
Yeah. He would be great on the show, would be great. In fact, I’ll put you in touch with him. I’ll send you an email and send you his stuff.

Brandon:
That’d be awesome. Have you guys either read, I know this isn’t really part of the famous four, but have you guys, either of you read, what’s it called, Storyworthy by Matthew Dicks? You guys read that at all?

Steven:
No, I haven’t even heard of it.

Brandon:
It’s not a big book. I don’t know where I found it. I think I found it at the library ones. Matthew Dicks is a guy who like one like the moth, like he does like the speaking storytelling challenges around like the east coast. And he’s like the top winner of that of all time. So they do like competitive storytelling. Anyway. It’s a phenomenal book related to a lot of what we’re talking about today about like how you craft a story and that stuff. Anyway, put it on your list at some point, it’s called Storyworthy by Matthew Dicks.

Steven:
Okay, great. Thanks.

Brandon:
Yeah. Really good about how to tell stories and it was phenomenal. So anyway. All right.

David:
Next question.

Brandon:
Next question, David Green, get it.

David:
Steven, what are some of your hobbies?

Steven:
Basically, I don’t have any hobbies. There are things that I do, I play golf, I like to travel. I like to do stuff like that. But I think for me, at least, if I were working at some shitty job that I hated, I would have hobbies. But I’m working at something that I love. So everything of mine goes into that. There are a few things that I do for fun, but I don’t have any real hobbies. No.

David:
I am stealing this answer because I feel the same problem every time someone asks me what my hobbies are and I feel like my life is lame. But now I get to say, “Because my life is not lame, that’s why I don’t have the hobbies.” Thank you, Steven. You solved a major problem.

Brandon:
That’s great. There was a famous song in TikTok and an Instagram reels these days. It’s just this like, it’s a stupid song, but the line is, “I’m on vacation every single day because I love my occupation,” and I thought that was a clever line. All right. Last question from me for the day. What do you think, if you had to like point it down to one or two things, what separates successful entrepreneurs from all those who give up, fail, or never get started?

Steven:
It’s a great question. And of course, I don’t know lots of entrepreneurs, I don’t know. But answering for myself, I think it comes down to how much you want it. That’s really the question. One of the things I say in The War of Art, I think maybe it’s Turning Pro, but I say a professional, a pro recognizes another pro. And I think that like in a western movie, a gunslinger recognizes another gunslinger.

Steven:
Where they walk in the door, they go, “This guy, I better watch out for this guy.” And I think what a pro identifies in that thing is how much that other person wants it. And I’m sure professional athletes are this. I’m sure Michael Jordan, when he measured himself against Cole Marlon or anybody that was a potential, I’m sure when his, those killer eyes would focus, he would say, “How much does this guy want it?” And he would always answer, “He doesn’t want it as much as I want it.”

Steven:
And I think that that’s what I would say. Now, that may be demented. The person may want it for some crazy reason or something like that, or that might be egomania or something like that. But I think, when it’s coming from the heart and it’s really true, and it involves an element of service, of helping, of a gift to the world, that’s a tough thing to beat.

Brandon:
That’s really good. One of the quotes that guides my life is a quote from Jim Rowan, the old like motivational speaker guy, he says, “If you really want something, you’ll find a way, if not, you’ll find an excuse.” And I’ve always loved that.

Steven:
So true, yeah.

Brandon:
All right, we got one more question before we get out of here. I think David’s going to do it. But actually David, before I let you ask the question, I want to ask David the question, because it’s been curious in my mind. Why did you, David asked the question earlier about the ancient Rome like that, or the ancient world? I’m wondering were you … we never really dove more into that, but was there a reason for that question?

David:
Thank you, Brandon. Steven, when I read your books, I sense a sense of love for humanity. In Turning Pro and The War of Art, there’s a sternness to the way it comes across. That’s why I was saying, “It feels like you developed punch. You’re not being punched by an amateur.” This person has a developed thought that they believe in very strongly. They’ve named resistance as an enemy and they’re coming after it with everything they have through this book.

David:
And I don’t think there’s any reason a person would write a book about that topic if they didn’t love people and want to help people. So I’ve always been intrigued by your mind, just what motivates you to look at the world the way you do and do things the way that you do. And I was wondering if what you loved in Roman and Greek times would give me some insight into why you write the way you do. And what I heard you telling me was that, it’s these principles that will allow you to overcome resistance.

David:
The things like honor and nobility are what gave them an advantage over the worst parts of mankind, which you named when you talked about mankind killing each other’s children, and you said they had a better understanding of what human nature was. They weren’t bullshitting themselves over resistance. They knew what evil was in the world. And so they developed these principles that would combat it. And I was just curious if that was the case and I was very pleased to hear your answer. Am I way off with that?

Steven:
Okay, great. Interesting.

Brandon:
Yeah, that makes sense. David, bringing it all together. All right, guys, we got to get out of here. So David, why don’t you close up shop here with your final questions?

David:
Last question of the day. Steven, for people that want to know more about you, where can they find out?

Steven:
I have a website that’s just my name, stevenpressfield.com. I’m also on Instagram a lot and either one of those places will take you. Actually, if you go to my website right now, if you don’t even know what a splash page is, I’m promoting A Man at Arms, so there’s a page that’s about A Man at Arms. But if you click the X at the upper right-hand corner of that page, it’ll take you to the underlying website, which is about The War of Art and about all of that stuff. So don’t be discouraged if you see this hype for men at arms. Underneath that is the stuff we were talking about today.

Brandon:
Yeah. Well, people should read A Man at Arms anyway, because it is phenomenal. But then obviously read The War of Art, Turning Pro, and all your other books there. I love seeing just a professional and you are a professional in every way. So Steven, thank you so much for joining us today. This has been phenomenal.

Steven:
And you guys are too. Thank you, David. Thank you, Brandon. And call me anytime if you want to do this again.

Brandon:
Awesome. Will do, thank you.

Steven:
My best to your listeners and your peeps.

Brandon:
Thanks man. All right, that’s it.

David:
Thank you, Steven. You were class act. This is David Greene for Brandon [Leeanitas 01:12:38] Turner signing off.

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