Hey there! In this blog post, I want to share the five lessons I learned from the book Do the work by Steven Pressfield. The things I learned from this book helped me to better approach big pieces of work and deliver more of them.
Lesson 1: Resistance is natural
The resistance you feel when going out of your comfort zone is natural among humans. It is natural to feel it, for example, when you have to do things that involve some significant effort, confront some fear, work on something that doesn’t pay off immediately, or get under the spotlight.
That resistance gets in the middle between you and delivering that big piece of work that you want. The one you want to ship and that you know is going to be good for your career.
Acknowledging that such resistance is natural is a great first step towards dealing better with it. To put that resistance aside and deliver more and more often.
Lesson 2: Start before you’re ready
There is a phrase that says, “The hardest thing to do is start,” that’s pretty much what this lesson is about. I guess the idea is to acknowledge that if you’re not aware of that or keep it in mind if you already knew it (because of how important it is).
The natural resistance will try to persuade you from starting that big thing you want to start on. You might say something like, “Yeah, I’ll start on X. I just need to get a little better on Y, and then I’ll start.” And that’s the trap; you’ll consciously or unconsciously lookup for blockers that prevent you from starting.
I like how the book even lists excessive research among the blockers that you can set to prevent you from starting that big thing. The book says that research is not bad when done within a fixed length but when used as a never-ending activity.
The lesson here is that there is no perfect moment to start. The best moment to start is today.
Lesson 3: Perfection is resistance
This lesson is very related to the previous one. The search for perfection can lead to resistance when you want to start working on something or deliver that something.
It’s always tempting to try to achieve perfection (at whatever level you consider perfection is reached). But, that search for perfection gets in the middle of delivering the work at all or delivering it at a good phase. Even worse sometimes what’s considered perfection are things arbitrarily aesthetic (visually or technically) that don’t really benefit the final product.
The lesson here is to acknowledge that perfection is another way of resistance. Ego in the search of perfection can get in the middle between you and delivering those big pieces of work.
I know this phrase says “better done than perfect,” and I could not agree more with it. Plus, things can (and should) be improved over iterations.
Lesson 4: Killer instinct
Delivering might not be easy. You might fear success or maybe be fear getting your work criticized by other people. It can take courage to ship the thing you’ve been working on for some time. But wrapping up and shipping is crucial for anything you’ve been working on. If not, then all the work you did was for nothing.
The killer instinct in terms of work is a super helpful mindset. You need to look forward to killing the monster (where the monster is the delivery of the work). You’ve worked all the way up to get to where you’re; it’s time to finish the job, kill the monster, and ship that new piece of job.
The key thing from this lesson is the importance of wrapping up and shipping the work. Otherwise, all the effort was for nothing.
Lesson 5: Panic is good
OK, you already shipped the work. At that point, you might feel afraid about what people will think or say about your work. You could even feel panic about being under the spotlight. That panic is natural, and it’s actually good, is a sign that you’re thriving.
You feel panic because you’re going out of your comfort zone, but as with anything else, the more you repeat that activity, the better you’ll get at handling it. So the lesson here is to embrace that panic and know that it’s a green flag letting you know you are developing yourself.
Do the work is among the materials that I most recommend to people trying to be more productive. It’s such a small and straightforward book that the time you invest reading is nothing compared to all the great things you learn from it.
Remember that just because you’ll look forward to shipping more doesn’t mean you should ship low-quality work. On the contrary, look for shipping often without overworking things.
What do you think about these lessons? Have you already read the book or plan to read it? Let me know in the comments!