Do the Work

Several times in the past I’ve written about one of the key truths of voiceover: “It’s not about you.” And it’s not. It’s about your client and his or her or their story.

I’ve been reading a fabulous new book from Steven Pressfield called “Do the Work” (link is an affiliate link to the Amazon Kindle edition) which is published by the new publishing project from Seth Godin called Domino. In the middle of the book I ran across this quote:

A professional does not take success or failure personally.

That really hit me between the eyes. It’s so easy to imagine that all the hard work we put in (to find new clients, to delight our existing clients to encourage them to keep coming back, to meet or exceed deadlines, etc.) somehow means that we are personally responsible for whatever success we experience. On the other hand, when things are quiet and the phone isn’t ringing at the same time the inbox is strangely empty of anything but notes from your family and the occasional bit of spam that slips past your filters, we are again personally responsible.

Now, there’s some value to taking responsibility for our own behaviors that are either productive or destructive. But it seems to me, ultimately, that Steven Pressfield is right. It’s not about you. Success. Failure. You can’t really control this stuff. All you can control is what you are doing.

Are you keeping your promises? Are you doing everything possible to delight your clients? Are you moving forward and making progress toward your goals every day? Then keep it up. If you’re not, then start.

Meanwhile I highly recommend Steven Pressfield’s book “Do the Work. You can get it from Amazon in Kindle format or as a hardback book.


  1. Agreed. Great book. Thank you, Bob. It reminds me of something I just heard in the foreword of the audible version of “Millionaire Upgrade” by Richard Parkes Cordock: “If you’re not prepared to pay the price in advance, the price you must pay ultimately is not achieving your goal.”

    Enjoy your Sunday.

    Comment by Anthony Mendez — June 12, 2011 @ 4:18 am

  2. A few years ago I studied a section of a book, took advice from experienced individuals and then some professional instruction. what did I need to be able to do? Land an aeroplane safely. Not on the Xbox 350 or the PloyStation ..a real aeroplane.

    I could get it to take off, fly along, go up, down, left and right, sideways, make it stop flying (stall) and get it to fly again, put it into a spin and then make in unspin (spin recovery) but at landing I SUCKED.

    Here was my problem. In order to land an aeroplane one has to point the nose of the aircraft at solid concrete doing around 70mph THEN change your mind at the last minute. If that isn’t bad enough when you are flying along the runway feeling nice and safe again you cut the engine, set it to idle THEN at 70 mph you’re expected to steer it with YOUR FEET!

    I got there in the end and flew my first ever solo on the 12th August 2008 at 1130am.

    The secret of success? To get yourself to do, in the correct sequence, a series of apparently stupid things. Understand why the “apparently” stupid things only appear to be stupid and then in all situations dare to think and believe differently.

    Comment by Philip Banks — June 12, 2011 @ 6:30 am

  3. You’ve hit on an important distinction that anyone in sales—a designation that applies as much to independent voiceover professionals as it does to sellers of advertising, automobiles, insurance or real estate—needs to remember, especially when confronting a setback: you’re accountable only for the decisions you make, not the decisions of others and certainly not all of the variables that life throws your way.

    One of the things I’ve noticed over the years is that people who enjoy the process of their work tend to enjoy a greater proportion of successful outcomes as well. Perhaps it’s a corollary to the principle that happiness isn’t something that can be attained by direct pursuit, but rather as a byproduct of successful living.

    Incidentally, Bob, speaking of “process,” you might enjoy this video on people who pitch fish for a living, all day, every day. I recently shared it with a group of advertising salespeople:

    Have a great week!

    Comment by Rod Schwartz — June 12, 2011 @ 9:09 pm

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