How Turning Pro Answered My Call for: Help!

Help! pen to ZenIs it hard for you to admit when you can’t do something on your own?

Do you ever feel bad about yourself when you need to rely on other people?

I do.

If you do too, I wonder: were you raised like I was, to see self-reliance and independence as the ultimates in gilded virtues?

We are not supposed to complain.

When I dabble in my Zen reading, I am reminded: complaining is unwise. My dad put it this way: “Bite on a bullet.” Or, “Walk it off.” Or, “You’re fine. Strong like bull.”

So, okay then. We don’t commiserate. We get going, because we are tough and the going has gotten tough. We just do it.

We are warriors, like one of my favorites, author Steven Pressfield, suggests.

But if all this is true, something is wrong.

With me, anyway.

Because warriors don’t go into battle alone, they stand with each other. They rely on their troops. Right?

And while they are tough and they get going and they might not complain, surely they have battle stories. Surely they share tales of war and sorrow, not only courage and triumph.

I know that’s right.

And what of loyalty? If we are only self-reliant, then why do we have comrades?

You might be wondering why I have all these questions today.

It’s true, this is not my usual posting style, but today is not an ordinary day for me. Today I’m trying things a little differently.

You see, today I didn’t stand alone. Today, I sought, and accepted, help. As in:

Help!

This week, my plan was to post about the Beatles, their harmonies, their unity… so yeah, if you read me, that’s more like it. Now this one is a wee stretch, but that all kinda sorta still goes along with my theme here.

I wanted to use the song Help! because the lyrics have hit me lately.

When something hits you enough times, it’s best if you do something about it.

I find it usually starts with a friendly hitting-you-in-the-arm kind of thing, then progresses to full on hitting-you-upside-the-head. Then finally, it’s hitting you in the heart. And you either pay attention or you end up… well, probably with a broken heart. If you’re me.

Others end up hard-hearted or heavy-hearted. Same idea.

So I decided to act on those lyrics that hit me in the heart.

Help! I need somebody
Help! Not just anybody
Help! You know I need someone
He e e e elllp….

Guess what? People, and the Universe, decided to answer my call.

Actually, it was happening before I even asked. Background help and pre-help was on the way. In the form of troops and comrades.

And Muse. And Karma. All sorts of good stuff.

So why the hell is it so hard to ask for h- hh – H- HELP! ???

It is for me, at least. Some of my favorites, like Leo Babauta, have suggested perhaps it is because I have not cultivated a flexible mind. Here is more on that in a beautiful interview with him.

Ironically, I feel self-critical about not having cultivated more mindfulness or equanimity by now. Which brings me to…

When I was younger, so much younger than today
I never needed anybody’s help in any way
But now these days are gone, I’m not so self assured
Now I find I’ve changed my mind and opened up the doors

Open Up the Doors

So that’s a good thing. Acceptance. Thank you greatest band of all time.

As mentioned, I’m posting all weird today because I asked and I received:

Help me if you can, I’m feeling down
And I do appreciate you being ’round
Help me get my feet back on the ground
Won’t you please, please help me

All the above is true. First I changed my mind, then I reached out, and in return I was shored up by those I appreciate. Even before that, I was sent support, kindness…and gifts!

So what’s wrong with me? Oh, the usual.

I have projects I’m worried about, paths I’m insecure to be on, and other every day stuff that is taking its toll.

(Nothing soul-crushing — or is it? — well, the bottom line is I REALLY needed help sorting shit out today.)

It’s so weird because I’m almost always, ALWAYS! The Helper.

And now my life has changed in oh so many ways
My independence seems to vanish in the haze
But every now and then I feel so insecure
I know that I just need you like I’ve never done before

Mostly, it has been the surface stuff of life, work, money, reputation, self-judgments… Not what is to me truly meaningful, like my love or my freedom. Still. My self-worth, my decisions, my ability–if I call those into question, I feel I’m losing my footing, because I use them all day long. I need them.

How about you? Can I get a witness?

Why do we so often question (or slam) the qualities we need to do what we want?

Oh yeah, it’s a habit.

An addiction, pretty much. It’s the human condition. It’s Resistance.

And it’s the life of an amateur.

Turning Pro

Steven Pressfield said in his book that turning pro would be messy.

He said I would remember when I turned pro like I remembered when 9/11 happened.

Indeed, I’m flipping to the pages I’m about to quote and they’re tearing me up.

It has happened over the course of a couple of weeks, culminating with today.

It seems it began as I read a post on stevenpressfield.com, commented on it, and received a lovely note in my email box from its author Callie Oettinger. She was kind enough after our exchange to offer me copies of books, and I was professional enough to accept them, with gratitude. (I use the library. I don’t own these books, and I admitted I would like to.)

I also had not read Turning Pro. This week, I started it. That’s how I know it was professional of me to accept. I was glad to find out.Turning Pro Steven Pressfield pen to Zen

Now, perhaps you will understand why, a few days ago when I stood on wobbly ground with my self-esteem and didn’t even know it, when I flipped open to page three and read the following, I cried:

The Human Condition

The Daily Show reported recently that scientists in Japan had invented a robot that is capable of recognizing its own reflection in the mirror.

“When the robot learns to look in the mirror and hate what it sees,” said Jon Stewart, “it will have achieved full humanity.”

Hmmm. I don’t typically feel like I hate what I see in the mirror, but that just got to me! Some books come at the right time. They hit you, you know?

If this post is hitting you at all, I suggest you read Turning Pro. There is so much in there for so many of us.

Finishing up with what happened today: I got to page 91.

Number 14 on the list of “Qualities of the Professional” (from his book The War of Art) is

The professional does not hesitate to ask for help

There are other items on this list, and in this book, that got me through the day, and through my requests for help, receiving my answers, and writing this post without a broken heart.

Like a pro.

Instead, my heart is mended and stronger, knowing this: even when my problems are my own to conquer, I don’t have to battle them by myself.

And neither do you.

You can do like I have: you can play hurt. Sit chilly. Not pull the pin.

Yeah, you need the book.

[NOTE: This contest mentioned in this post is over, but please get on my mailing list to receive news of the next one. I still have half a box of various books to share! Plus you get my ebook on editing like a Buddha, and a special report listing 50 Great Taglines You Can Copy, both for free.]

I’m Giving Away 3 Copies of Turning Pro

I have three extra copies of Turning Pro by Steven Pressfield thanks to Callie O., and I’m giving them away to three readers.

I don’t want to host a contest to make you tweet and share to get entries. I’m not feeling it.

I simply want this book to hit others at the right time, too.

To enter to win a copy:

Leave me a comment below and tell me why you want the book. Also tell me what you think about asking for help, the idea of being amateur versus pro, or any other struggle. Do this by 10/11/14. [Sorry! Contest is over! But you can find out about the next one via email. Sign Up Here.]

I’ll put this up on Twitter and Facebook too. Let’s all support each other.

If you don’t win, you can buy Turning Pro: Tap Your Inner Power and Create Your Life’s Work on this B & N link (thanks!) or follow my lead and use your public library!

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24 Responses to How Turning Pro Answered My Call for: Help!

  1. Isobel Jones September 26, 2014 at 1:00 pm #

    Faith – beautifully written! :)

    So good to hear that you stepped to the other side of the mirror, looked back out at yourself and responded with kindness. The value of self-care can’t be over-stated. Perhaps it’s the first professional skill actually?

    Am too far away for a physical copy of ‘Turning Pro’, but you have reminded me to finish the War of Art + then I shall put said other book towards the top of my list for download.

    Keep going! Compassion radiates out through, not from us. Subtle difference.. ;) :)

    • Faith Watson September 26, 2014 at 1:39 pm #

      Isobel, I so appreciate your care, long distance. I can feel your heart as always, and you are so right, we can share compassion with ourselves equally as with others, as it is always available to pass through us both ways.

      I’m glad you will now finish the War of Art. Perhaps this post timing was just right for you, in that!

  2. Mary Winters-Meyer September 26, 2014 at 1:22 pm #

    Hi Faith! That’s a wonderful offer, and this post hits me in the heart, too. I’ve always seen myself as self-reliant, but even more, I have the “I don’t want to bother other people when I’m hurting or feeling down.” So I tend to suffer in silence, which usually only leads to being more depressed.

    Strangely, though, that tendency isn’t there when it comes to specific training. I’m willing to reach out to others for that. It’s the more “fuzzy logic” kinds of things where I don’t reach out. Things like “I have this idea. Is it worth pursuing?” or “What’s the best way to tackle this spaghetti-like mess of tasks?” I also tend to struggle with self-worth when it comes to amateur vs. pro. The “am I good enough to try to teach others about this topic?” or “I’m just an amateur with this technology. I won’t apply for that cool opportunity. I’m sure they’re looking for professionals.”

    I haven’t read any of Steven Pressfield’s books. It looks like I need to add them to my growing list of must-reads!

    • Faith Watson September 26, 2014 at 1:31 pm #

      Mary, I can totally relate with so much of what you say. Especially the suffering in silence parts… S.P. does advocate “playing hurt” which I think many of us tend toward (we’re creative so we might also be sensitive). Meaning, the best athletes still go in for the game, they limp through the finish line tape, or take one for the team. I’m all about that and I bet you are too. But turning pro requires balance. We give help and ask for help, we know what we’re good at but don’t need to be glorified for it.

      I think you need to read this book, but first I highly recommend The War of Art! Thank you for visiting my blog today. :-)

  3. Kevin September 26, 2014 at 1:35 pm #

    Faith, Pressfield’s concept of turning pro is helpful in so many ways and you’ve nicely illustrated a couple here in this post.

    As another example, I recently had a coaching call with an author who was surprised when I was open to talking with about her business strategy.

    She told me everyone in her artistic circle considers thinking about the business and money issues related to their art to be selling out.

    I found myself suddenly channelling Pressfield as I told her, “No, taking the business side of your art seriously is no selling out. What it is… is going pro.”

    • Faith Watson September 29, 2014 at 11:05 am #

      Kevin, how true is that, oh my gosh! And it all starts with US being willing to take OURSELVES that seriously. Artists really are entrepreneurs and vice versa, and if we’re in this for the long haul, we are going to need more than Muse. A professional has a practice and a plan. :-)

  4. Darren September 29, 2014 at 11:37 am #

    Faith

    I went Pro when I started asking for help. I met you through Fizzle, and online community and training for entrepreneurs to make their “thing.”

    I ask for help all the time. I need it because I don’t and I can’t know everything. There is a balance between learning by doing, and doing many things that are new to you, and asking for help with those things that would stop you cold in your tracks.

    Asking you for help shortly after launching my site was one of the best PRO investments I ever made. You helped me with my copy better that I could have imagined, because you helped me to refine my copy with questions. You made me still do the work, but you guided the process.

    I hope this comment helps you, as you have helped me! :-)

    • Faith Watson September 29, 2014 at 1:40 pm #

      Darren, you are one of the prime examples for turning pro that I know, always so wisely asking, sharing, receiving and giving help! I think one of the most important points we can make about that topic is putting things into action. Perhaps we don’t always ask for help because there is a certain obligation to do something about the issue we ask for help with, right? Confidence plays into that for some, and follow-through for others… but you always just move in the direction of your goals and keep learning and growing. I LOVE that. If we all can remember that turning pro is not about arriving somewhere, it’s about acting and doing. It’s a state of being, really.

  5. Chiereme September 29, 2014 at 12:31 pm #

    Faith,

    I am a recent grad and aspiring author. I often struggle with giving myself the title of writer because of my insecurities and fear of failure. I want to learn how to be confident in my abilities – which I know that with prayer, hard work and a little faith will take me to where I aspire to be. I find it hard to ask for help being that I’ve always been a loner.

    My confidence in someone else’s genuine willingness to help is often what keeps me from asking around. This year I decided to dispel the indifference myth and reach out to other for support and collaboration. I have had many let-downs, refusals and discouragements, but I have also found that having one or two people with a great deal of wisdom and expertise is often more valuable than a team of half-doers. I currently would rate myself as a beginner being that I have spent most of my time researching versus doing – which I am currently changing.

    I hope to receive a copy of the book.

    Thanks!

    Chiereme

    • Faith Watson September 29, 2014 at 1:46 pm #

      Chiereme, what a cool magazine you have started! I just tweeted it. :-) One of the toughest parts about starting anything, and staying with it, is suffering though let downs, rejections and the like. It sounds to me like you have learned an awful lot already, though (maybe disappointment is why they call it an “awful” lot? lol) — indeed, we tend to grow more from our tough times than when things just smoothly roll right along. In Turning Pro (this isn’t a spoiler, it’s near the start) there is a description of how it’s like going through a membrane. I think that is an amazing description. I think of the inside of an eggshell for some reason. So important that it’s there to hold everything together, but how will the chick get out? Has to work hard to peck through that thing.

      Myself, I love researching. But action is a form of research too. Let’s call it experimenting. :-) Thank you for commenting and I look forward to reading more from you. Loners tend to get a lot done but I’m glad you reached out, because that’s a whole other way to get ahead as well. :-)

  6. MP MacDougall September 29, 2014 at 2:04 pm #

    Wow Faith, this was a timely read for me! I’m just going through Scott Dinsmore’s 7-day start a blog challenge (even though I’ve had a blog for almost two years), and planning to do the Just Ship It challenge on Fizzle when I’m finished… but I was lamenting to my wife that as a fiction/humor writer, I don’t know what to ‘Just Ship’!! Too much self-doubt about the minutiae of setting up auto-responders, landing pages, email lists, pricing models, etc. My wife told me to quit worrying about all that and get to work writing. Her point was that I need to stop acting like an amateur and do the dang work already. Then I saw your post on Fizzle about turning pro, and now I have no more excuses. Thanks for posting this. If anybody needs me, I’ll be in my office writing something. Like a pro would.

    • Faith Watson September 30, 2014 at 3:43 pm #

      MP, stick close to your wife. :-D And it’s so common to go through the information overload/analysis-paralysis stuff that you describe. STOP IT! How’s that? Do the Work is another book by Pressfield you might need to overcome some of this, but both that one and Turning Pro came after The War of Art, which is really amazing and kinda starts us all of on this path to seeing the real battle more clearly. As a fiction/humor writer AND a person with an eye on turning your blog into a business/shipping something, I think you might need to arm yourself against Resistance, like the rest of us.

      But don’t worry about reading anything now. This commenting contest of mine goes until Oct. 11 and you have plenty of work to keep you busy until then. I’ll be in touch!

  7. David September 29, 2014 at 4:37 pm #

    Synchronicity! I recently wrote an article on my site – What I wanted to convey flowed faster than my ability to craft the sentences and I was left wondering if I had posted my article too soon. So yes i need help! Writing is not my primary gig – web development is but I have so much inside me I want to share – I just need to hone my skills at writing for the web.

    • Faith Watson September 30, 2014 at 3:42 pm #

      Wow David, smeone as smart, thoughtful and kind as you is right about needing a way to share, yes! I like your thoughts, just so you know. It really can take time and effort to get them into the form or vehicle that is “just right” to get some traction with, though. (dont’ I know it!) In your case it will be worth it– I can read how much your site means to you and it will surely link you with many likeminded others! And I know what you mean about having the thoughts inside you but not being able to craft the sentences fast enough to get them out the way you want. The hint I have for you (and myself and others) about that is to develop the practice of writing a draft.

      In my case, I write every day for various reasons: sometimes for others (for pay) on deadline, sometimes creative writing for personal goals, sometimes for myself on this blog for business purposes, and so on. I try to treat each writing project as a writing job (usually I am successful but it’s not like I don’t make mistakes if I’m jammed up, or take shortcuts). The habit of writing first drafts of copy for graphics teams to lay out has stuck with me in most everything. In fact, if you haven’t read the post I have here on “the three best times to edit anything” you should! (hint: before, during and after) I have broken the backspace keys on my last two keyboards, I delete so much. So–write a draft, revise it, make it great then publish on your blog. Remember, you can always tweak it later if it’s way off. I do it all the time.

      • David October 14, 2014 at 11:03 am #

        Faith,

        Thank you for this! I received your email and then went right here realizing that I was never auto-notified that you had responded here first.

        I totally get the outlining/drafting as I do that all the time when writing software – design first, details and program later – and a cycle of continuous improvement to the point where it meets the needs of the client or in the case of writing a blog article – my ‘self’ and the readers.

        I spent this past weekend re-architecting code to free up more creative time and I ended up using my spare time reading not writing! LOL I needed that though!

        With gratitude,

        David

  8. Veronica September 30, 2014 at 7:31 am #

    I’m still struggling with Pressfield, and the Universe. But enough railing at the Gods. I’ll find my way. Wary the epiphany, is what I have learned, there’s always work to be done.

    • Faith Watson September 30, 2014 at 3:51 pm #

      Veronica, some work is essential, all work is not. :-) Not meaning to get all Yoda, but Pressfield isn’t very… struggly? Just hammer away and be true to what sits in your center. Most of the rest is all just ideas and experiments. Except for people. People rock. Except for assholes. Who are usually just lost. So we can often help them, too.

      Some of my best friends are epiphanies!

  9. Homer Allen September 30, 2014 at 8:20 am #

    Our youngest daughter was a freshman in college and our other daughters had graduated from college. I decided to begin painting again. I asked a very good artist to help me with the direction of my work. 175 paintings; 102 sales; representation by 4 galleries; 5 large commissions; and teaching free classes to artists – after 3 years – I am well on the way to TURNING PRO.
    I also did this while working a full-time sales position.
    Asking for help was hard, but the easiest way to getting somewhere.

    • Faith Watson September 30, 2014 at 3:41 pm #

      Homer Allen, I love the vibrant beauty of your paintings and your story, and I think it is quite telling to see those numbers. Clearly, you have a practice. It’s great to read the words “begin painting again.” Act 2. Amazing!

  10. Pat September 30, 2014 at 9:22 pm #

    Love this post! Love Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art which I let someone borrow and never got back! I have been an amateur at my freelance work and also my finances for many years now. Of course one has to do with the other and vice versa. I’ve used all the excuses in the book but the bottom line is I only have myself to blame. It’s time to make more money – step up my game – enter the adult world. That in a nutshell is why this book is not only what I want but what I need.

    • Faith Watson October 1, 2014 at 5:36 pm #

      Hi Pat! Thank you for loving the post. :-) The War of Art never came back to you? Grrr that is such a shame. I find myself wanting to quote it all the time. You know, I never realized until your comment here what an amateur I’ve been at my finances, too. I’ve been a real pro at love and family, eating and health too I guess… but man, you are making me think about the other areas of my life in which I also need to turn pro.

      But let’s not “blame” as much as step up the game. I like your nutshell. This book is a real winner for people who are ready to do that. Thank you for your comment. I am loving reading everyone’s entry!

  11. Fiona Fitzpatrick October 10, 2014 at 1:30 am #

    Bull’s eye! Straight to the heart. Ouch.

    And ironically, I feel a bit better now just reading your post.

    I feel like a Passionate Pro for those I work with (cancer survivors) and do hearty good work helping people reclaim their lives post treatment.

    Like many people, I learnt the art of helping others from a young age. Unfortunately, I missed out on the flipside of that …learning to ask for help. It doesn’t serve me well to keep this up.

    Thanks for your arrow-straight words, Faith. It’s high time to do this different. I’d love it if Steven Pressfield could be my guide.

    • Faith Watson October 10, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

      Fiona–Thank you so much for stopping in and chatting with me on this. You certainly are a passionate pro–what wonderful work you do! And no, it won’t serve you well to try to go it alone all the time. Having amazing coping skills can work for us to a certain point, and then the same trait can work against us — we need to realize when we can’t do everything. There are so many side to turning pro. So much of it is about being honest with yourself… I’ve been finding this helps us be at our best.

  12. Faith Watson October 12, 2014 at 2:30 pm #

    HI EVERYONE. IT’S 10/12 AND MY TIME PERIOD FOR RECEIVING COMMENTS AS ENTRIES HERE ON THIS POST/GIVEAWAY IS OVER. Thank you so much for all your conversation. I will be contacting you about Turning Pro in the next couple of days!
    ~Warmly, Faith

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