Month: March 2010

Habit

By Steven Pressfield | 16 Comments

Konrad Lorenz, the Nobel Prize-winning zoologist, had a pet goose that he allowed the run of the house. The first day when the goose waddled in the door, there happened to be a mirror near floor height; the goose mistook his own reflection for some rival bird and flew into attack mode.

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Specking It

By Steven Pressfield | 11 Comments

[The blog is on the road this week.  Herewith: a re-run of one of the best-received posts, “Specking It.”  Back next week!] I moved from New York to Hollywood in the mid-eighties. This was the era of the “spec script”–a concept that has been of great use to me on many fronts beyond screenwriting. It might help you too.

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The Uses of Shame

By Steven Pressfield | 15 Comments

Shame is good. Shame is a tremendous weapon against Resistance. Along with habit, momentum, aspiration, anger, eros and joy, shame can be a mighty ally in the never-ending guerrilla campaign against self-sabotage.

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Downrange: An Informal Report of a trip to Afghanistan with Marine Gen. James N. Mattis

By Steven Pressfield | 19 Comments

[Part Four of Four] COIN doctrine, counter-insurgency theory, says “protect the people” comes before “kill the enemy.” In meeting after meeting we heard all the right things from officers and civilian leaders who were earnest, brave, well-intentioned, smart, sincere, hard-working and absolutely decent and ethical.  We heard about construction projects and rules of engagement and mitigating civilian casualties, about liaising with tribal elders and managing escalation of force and irrigation and extracting resources and using local people, defeating the corruption of the Karzai regime, delivering good governance, etc.  But I didn’t see any Afghans in the rooms.  I didn’t see…

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Downrange: An Informal Report on a trip to Afghanistan with Marine General James N. Mattis

By Steven Pressfield | 5 Comments

[Part Three of Four] It’s more than a little weird, participating in one of these PR walkarounds. Self-congratulation is the inevitable theme. The bubble can get pretty thick. For me, at least, it’s almost impossible to grok the street reality. Are things going great or are we all lining up to drink our own Kool-Aid?  For all I can tell, the sullen, hood-eyed bandits eyeballing our procession have been cutting loose AK rounds at Marines twenty-four hours earlier—and may be doing it again three days from now. Not that that means anything. Earlier in the trip, Gen. Mattis, speaking of…

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Downrange: An Informal Report on a trip to Afghanistan with Marine Gen. James N. Mattis

By Steven Pressfield | 8 Comments

[Part Two of Four] 6. Kabul is a Third World city, squalid as mud and dirty as hell. Every building that’s above the level of the people is built like a fortress; compounds with high walls topped with razor wire, AK-toting guards out front and security cameras atop Y-shaped posts. At the airport, guard towers are set in onion fields with police asleep or tending little vegetable gardens or heating tea over propane stoves. They’re keeping watch, supposedly, over cyclone fences topped with concertina wire and protected at ground level by rolls of the same, so no one can crawl…

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Downrange: An Informal Report on a trip to Afghanistan with Marine Gen. James N. Mattis

By Steven Pressfield | 10 Comments

Part One of Four 1. Jim Mattis is a four-star Marine general. He doesn’t go out of his way to be quotable; he just can’t help himself.  Here, from Iraq 2004, are his instructions to the Marines under his command on how to conduct themselves with the natives they will encounter. Be polite.  Be professional.  But have a plan to kill everyone you meet. In the first battle of Fallouja, Gen. Mattis commanded the Marines assigned to take the city. There came a point during the fighting when Mattis had to negotiate with the Sunni sheikhs and Baathist ex-army officers…

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Tribal Engagement Tutorial: The Jirga and the Shura

By Steven Pressfield | 1 Comment

The following is another installment of the Tribal Engagement Tutorial series, written by Major Jim Gant and MAC McCallister. It is a long post, so stick with it. It describes key differences between a shura and a jirga, as well as guidance on when to call for one, how to prepare, how to act, what to say, and so on. Thank you to both of them for pulling this together. According to NATO’s military chief of intelligence in Afghanistan, the Taliban now maintain shadow governors in thirty-three out of thirty-four provinces. While we like to see the world in black…

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Write For a Star

By Steven Pressfield | 6 Comments

“Write for a star” is one of the primal axioms of screenwriting, but it has applications across many other fields as well. What does it mean to write for a star? Writing for a star means create a role that a star wants to play. Your story may be dynamite, your structure may be sound, your theme profound and involving. But the first question a producer is going to ask is, “Who can I cast in this thing?”

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Depth of Work, Part Two

By Steven Pressfield | 15 Comments

You have to be a little crazy to be a writer or an artist or an entrepreneur. A certain breed of insanity is required to chase a dream or to seek to bring into manifestation something that only you see or hear. I’ve gotten to know, over the years, a few genuine warriors  (I mean real fighting men, multi-tour Special Forces guys and Marines, Rangers and Airborne and Navy SEALS and plain old hardcore Army foot-sloggers) and you’ve gotta be crazy to do that too. How do you know how crazy you are? By how genuinely nuts you get when…

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