Your Instincts are (Probably) Not Wrong

When Steven Pressfield quotes Roseanne Cash quoting Linda Ronstadt there are too many levels to ignore! You can check out the chapter called “Roseanne Cash’s Dream” in Turning Pro for the whole story, but one thing she said really stuck out to me:

Just as I was beginning to record [King’s Record Shop], I had read an interview with [Linda Ronstadt] in which she said that in commiting to artistic growth, you had to “refine your skills to support your instincts.” (p. 78)

When you’re in this process of “turning pro” there may be a lot of new aspects to your life. Who you hang out with, where you live, and how you spend your time may all change, but the process is actually more revelatory than it is transformational. It’s not a process of the ugly caterpillar becoming the beautiful butterfly, but actually the amateur caterpillar becoming a super awesome caterpillar willing to use its gifts to contribute to the world.

You’re supposed to be YOU, nothing more, but also nothing less.

From now on, aim all your efforts towards becoming yourself, who you were always meant to be. Even if you don’t buy into the idea that you were created for something, you have to admit you’re not living up to the potential of the human animal. There are some disciplines and practices we all need to adopt, but I think it’s important to pause here and state outright that the goal isn’t for you to become a totally different person.

For some people that may be a disappointment. Pressfield notes often that the amateur is using fantasy as distraction, and I would add that often this fantasy is one where you prove to yourself that you can’t do it (whatever “it” is). “If I were only _____ enough, I would do _____!”

If we’re talking about playing professional basketball, then yes, there will be some reasons you can’t do that thing, but I would argue that even being a professional athlete is a means to an end and not an end in itself. There is a tight window to that career and any job where you’re washed up in your early thirties should give us a major clue that it’s possibly not enought to truly build an identity on.

I would actually assert that being an athlete, or any “job” is actually your grad school for turning pro. It’s not so much about the career itself as much as applying tools of discipline and hard work (labor and love, as Pressfield quotes earlier). We (desperately!) need each other to approach life with maturity and depth, no matter what they are doing, and this is the essence of what I think life — and especially life in community with others — is all about.

Sorry for that quick rabbit trail, but this is where I see myself and so many people going off the rails. They convince themselves they are a certain job, or they convince themselves that they are wrong. You can do a lot of wrong things, and we should maybe not trust the addict to follow every “bliss,” but by and large, your instincts are right. If something feels off, or wrong stop and ask yourself why that may be. If something feels really great, do the same thing.

The process of turning pro will not be easy, and even thought at times it will feel counterintuitive or even fill you with fear from head to toe, it should always feel right in your gut. You’re finally “refining your skills to support your instincts.”

**Note: check out the digital book club for Turning Pro to read tons of great insights on the book and on life in general!