Book Review: The War of Art by Steven Pressfield

Early in my college days I fancied myself a pretty darn good piano player but I was terribly shy of playing in front of big gThe war of art IIroups of people. One evening I went out to an open mic night with my friend and it was a packed house. There was a girl there who got up and played the piano. She stumbled a couple of times but made it through to the end and everyone applauded her. I remember leaning over to my friend and whispering, “I could play that piece so much better than that.” And my friend who was a couple of years older and considerably wiser whispered back, “Yes Brooke, but the point is she is up there doing it,” and she kept clapping.

Now I know that story doesn’t place me in the best light (please believe I have done a lot of growing since college!) but I have to share it with you because it was a moment that a light turned on for me. Well…if I am to continue being honest (cringe) at the time when my friend said that to me I just felt kind of miffed. But it stuck with me over the years and began to sink in and now looking back, and especially after reading Steven Pressfield’s book The War of Art, I can see I was learning a pretty important lesson.

The lesson that Pressfield teaches us so profoundly and in such an inspiring way is this. It doesn’t matter what your dream is, or how you identify yourself, or what you think you might be capable of UNLESS you act on it. That does not mean some day, or when you have a little more time, or when the house is picked up, or when the kids are bigger. The point is that if you have something inside of you that you are dying to do, that you are committed to and know needs to happen in your life, the only way you are going to get there is if you show up and put in the time. Pressfield gives us a great way to identify that part of us that is always trying to self-sabotage by giving it a name. The Resistance.

“Resistance is experienced as fear; the degree of fear equates to the strength of Resistance. Therefore the more fear we feel about a specific enterprise, the more certain we can be that that enterprise is important to us and to the growth of our soul. That’s why we feel so much Resistance. If it meant nothing to us, there’d be no Resistance.” -Steven Pressfield, The War of Art

It is normal and probably a good sign to be totally terrified at the beginning of a new endeavor (and completely possible to be simultaneously super excited). What have you dreamed of doing this year? Getting in shape? Starting a new business? Writing a book? We all have dreams simmering inside of us. What is keeping you from getting started? Reading this book might be just the ticket to helping you take that first step.

If ever there was a coach in book form – a tough, no excuses, kick you in the butt kind of coach – The War of Art by Steven Pressfield is it.

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