Do The Work is a masterful work by and for the Bi-Polar ADD artist in us all. The author (Steven Pressfield) describes the 3 phases of any dream / project. The Beginning, The Middle, and The End. He encourages / tells us to start before you are ready (and I am, I’m not really ready to write this review, but I’m taking his advice). Then, when we approach the middle, He has the courage to declare something we all fear to believe. That Yes, the universe is stacked against us, and there will be LOTS of resistance in the middle, you just have to keep going. I read a book a few years ago and the whole message of the book was. “If you believe, the universe will work for your good, and you can do anything.” Which is total BS. (Can you believe, one of the reviewers was Hillary Clinton, and she praised it? (there was some sarcasm in that last sentence)). There is some truth to that concept, but it totally ignores the angry monsters of resistance that are doing everything possible to pull you back down to earth. Pressfield briefly touches on the powers of the universe to help you to your goal, but instead of emphasizing them, paints them as a source of assistance to someone giving it their all. Like the fans spread across a marathon cheering you on, and telling you you can do it even though you are certain your lungs will explode if you don’t stop now. He then talks about the Fear of the End. And how you need to “just do it”, and finish the thing. “A Damn the torpedoes, we’re going to finish this thing.”. He wraps up the book with a few pages congratulating us for finishing, welcoming us to the exclusive club of people who did it, even if we didn’t get the results we wanted, we did it.
So what do I think about it? Is the book true? Does it work? I would say absolutely yes. I have been on projects where the whole team was devoted and sacrificed everything to make it happen, because they wanted to. I have also been on teams where the boss forced everyone to behave in a similar way, making everyone miserable. I’ve dove head long into things that if I had stopped to think about I would have talked myself out of. I have enjoyed all of those experiences and learned a great deal, and accomplished incredible things in very short time periods.
At the same time. I think there is a mental and emotional cost associated with the kind of dedication to work his book could be interpreted as trying to motivate. Blind dedication, 20 hour work days, and never stopping to rest is why half of Manhattan is on Crack/Speed. Yes, you can get tremendous things accomplished by just working non-stop. However, how long can you keep this up? Is it possible to work for a dream 20 hours a day for a life time? I would say sure, if you want to go crazy. How about 8 hours a day 5 day a week? Easy. How about 12 hours a day 6 days a week? I would say yes, you can do that as long as you stop and take a break when you need to. I also think the emotional and mental toll is less the more you believe in what you are doing. I think the more you believe in what you are doing, the more energy you get back from the results you achieve.
He also talks about a pattern of Work, and then Reflect, and then Work, and then reflect, just don’t try to work and reflect at the same time. I think this has been a big road block for my personal performance. I always reflect when I work, and if I see any problems I halt until I figure them out. He is advocating don’t worry or fret about the time you may loose making mistakes, or going down the wrong path. You will learn from it anyways. Just do the work, and then reflect and make changes if necessary. I can attest to this. I have started projects, even half way completed projects, and only as I finished great milestones did I realize I had made some errors in my initial design, and had I not done the wrong thing I wouldn’t have known how to do it right.
So, what am I going to do? I am going to search more for something I believe in, find that thing, and then pour myself into it in ways I haven’t for a long long time.