“Realize you are on this Earth for a reason and the world needs that special gift that only you have.” Marie Forleo
Have you ever felt like you have a ton of potential inside that you are not able to fully actualize out into the world? Do you dream of being a writer, a pilot, an actor, an inventor, a humanitarian, an entrepreneur, a parent, a farmer, a blogger, a yogi, a chef, a teacher or a marathon runner? Have you ever started meditating, working out, creating a vision board or writing in a gratitude journal and then abruptly abandoned your plan for self-improvement? Do you feel like you are living your life to your highest potential? If you were diagnosed with a terminal illness tomorrow, how would that impact the way you live out the rest of your life? Would you take more chances? Follow a different dream? Rethink your current situation?
I recently finished reading and re-reading (and re-reading) the amazing book “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield and I have spent a lot of time pondering the questions above and thinking about what stops me from taking the necessary steps to boost my career and my life to the next level. According to Pressfield, “Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands Resistance.”
Oh yes, Resistance. There were more than a few of these tactics that I could relate to including: procrastination, fear, self-dramatization, self-doubt and rationalization… to name just a few. Pressfield makes a case that every single one of us faces Resistance in some form or another and that it is literally the most toxic force on the planet.
“How many of us have become drunks and drug addicts, developed tumours and neuroses, succumbed to painkillers, gossip and compulsive cell phone use, simply because we don’t do that thing that our hearts, our inner genius, is calling us to do? If tomorrow morning by some stroke of magic, every dazed and benighted soul woke up with the power to take the first step toward pursuing his or her dreams, every shrink in the world would be out of business. Prisons would stand empty. The alcohol and tobacco industries would collapse along with the junk food, cosmetic surgery and infotainment businesses, not to mention the pharmaceutical companies, hospitals and medical professions from top to bottom. Domestic abuse would become extinct, as would addiction, obesity, migraine headaches, road rage and dandruff.” Steven Pressfield, The War of Art
He makes a very strong case for honouring your own personal calling and identifying exactly what is stopping you from answering the call. He then offers up a number of concrete ways to overcome the obstacles in your path. The most exciting thing about this book is that after reading it, I truly felt like I had some solid strategies for combatting my own Resistance and for simply getting down to work.
I honesty cannot say enough good things about this book. It is short, funny and written in an easily digestible style. It starts out with a clear definition of Resistance and all of the manifestations this enemy of creativity may take in our lives. The second half of the book is devoted to clear-cut methods for combatting Resistance like; turning pro, acting in the face of fear, accepting no excuses and asking for help. And the final section looks beyond Resistance to a higher realm of inner genius and inspiration.
If you are looking for a summer read that will make you think, challenge your beliefs and possibly move you one step closer to realizing your true potential – then pick up The War of Art.
Creative work is not a selfish act or a bid for attention on the part of the actor. It’s a gift to the world and every being in it. Don’t cheat us of your contribution. Give us what you’ve got.” Steven Pressfield, The War of Art