Are You a Pro?

Sam Mahlstadt —  May 2, 2010 — 2 Comments

If you are an artist at any level, or you are an entrepreneur, or trapped in a cubicle with a desire to be creating, you must you must you must read The War of Art by Steven Pressfield.

I have already made my case for the book, so I won’t go on and on about his insight and brilliance. A profound point in the book for me was the clear distinction between being an amateur and being a pro. Succinctly, a pro is someone who succeeds due to perseverance, and an amateur is someone who quits.

So the question of the day is this, have you turned pro yet? Not do you get paid to do what you love, but have you taken on the mindset of the pro? Do you approach your craft like it’s a job? Do you conquer the Resistance by pushing through the distractions, or do you listen to the lies and give up?


Are you a pro?

Be The Now

Sam Mahlstadt —  May 1, 2010 — 1 Comment

After a series of posts that challenged our perception of who Jesus the radical Rabbi was, and how to best apply his teachings in our culture, I incited some pointed conversations. (To catch up, the posts spanned from April 12 through April 22.) There were some comments here, and many more on, where this blog happens to be syndicated. I also got some push back from friends in private messages.

Let me bear my soul for a quick moment:

It was hard for me to be challenged. I post on this blog daily. Almost everyday more people than I think is appropriate come and read what I have written (largely because I remind you all via Twitter and Facebook status updates). Rarely do I get negative responses; people who think I am wrong letting me know so. And when that happens on rare occasions, readers usually come to my defense. Well…this time, even though there was some great conversation happening, I felt as though I was taking on my readership.

I felt defensive; they aren’t listening to me!

I felt disappointed; they just don’t get it!

I felt like I had failed; none of this is the point!

I second-guessed my motives. Why I had written the posts? Could anything good possibly come out of them. Did I simply facilitate an argumentative snark-fest instead of a conversation? It sure seemed so…at the time.

But then something staggering happened. I received a tweet from a good friend of mine (one who disagreed with me throughout the political series :) ) announcing a new blog called Be The Now. I read The Kick Off post laying out the vision of the blog, and the heart behind the movement. I was blown away.

The entire purpose of the series I wrote was to encourage you to wrestle with your faith, no matter where you are on the journey. If we consider ourselves Christians, I believe we need to take a long, hard look at what that means for today. For now. I could not be more thrilled to announce Nate’s new endeavor, Be The Now, to you creators of culture. Please take a few minutes to click over to and look around.

You can also follow the blog on Twitter @BeTheNow. This is is what it is all about!

Go be the now.

This time of year, everyone displays their anger and hate for pollen. I am with all you haters, as I just developed allergies a few years ago. Spring is still great, but the pollen-up-the-nose bit has taken Spring’s appeal down a notch.

But…it sure is pretty.

Full slideshow from MSNBC here.

I have read a few books so far this year, and I have been incredibly impressed. To be honest, I may have read a few of the best books out right now in the past couple months.

Below are my Amazon links – and I truly encourage you to check out these books if you don’t currently own them. They are the type of books that need to be placed on a nearby shelf within quick reach. They need to be read, and read again, and read once more. The words are timeless and profound.

The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning – It was in the first few pages of the book that I realized he was talking about me. Not the theory of following Jesus, but he was telling the story of my faith journey. This quote, even among a sea of literary and theological gems, rocked my world a bit. Even as the cheese is falling off my cracker, I continue to clutch my teddy bear.

A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller – This book made me ask some big questions. Big, soul-searching questions. While I read the book, I began to experience a desire to live a good story. Miller is not only a great storyteller, but also brings the reader along in the quest to live great stories of their own. I have since come to the realization that great stories (written and lived) are created in the editing process.

The War of Art by Steven Pressfield – I haven’t read many books on the craft of writing, but this book was brilliant. More than “how to write” or “how to be creative” this was a book about conquering fear, doubt, confidence and anything else that keeps an artist from creating. I have a new found desire to become a pro, and conquer the Resistance.

What have you read lately that has changed your perspective?

I received a message from a good friend in response to the last few posts about the modern-day epistle. He reminded me of 2 Corinthians chapter 3, where the very man responsible for most of the New Testament epistles talks about the True Epistle.

Verses 1-3 (NKJV):

Christ’s Epistle

Do we begin again to commend ourselves? Or do we need, as some others, epistles of commendation to you or letters of commendation from you? You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men; clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart.