Photo: Wesley Fryer on Flickr
Author’s note: A while ago, when I began my coaching business, I started making a list of those people that influenced me. But a list alone isn’t compelling enough so I wanted to do a deeper dive into each of my influences to share HOW they influenced me, my personal development, and my coaching. Enjoy!
When a former work colleague recommended Big Magic by Liz Gilbert, I wondered if that was the same woman from Eat, Pray, Love who travels around the world? All I really knew about Eat, Pray, Love at that point was that it had something to do with finding oneself and that the book had had a moment, even making it on Oprah’s Book Club.
Regardless, this introduction to this wandering guru was critical to my own development.
The vulnerability and realness that Liz shares both in Big Magic and how she engages with her fans otherwise is so simple, real, and welcoming. I’m a sucker for vulnerability. Just tell me what you really feel and I’m usually in. And Liz does so in a way that feels different, though I can’t quite put my finger on how. It feels more real, less polished, less edited. And that builds a relationship with the reader that is powerful.
But more than that, I read Big Magic at a critical time for me, when I talked a big game about writing, but studiously avoided ever actually doing it. Even when I had some motivation, other things like fear were keeping me from taking the next steps necessary to achieve that dream. It’s a hard realization that fear is keeping you from achieving your dreams, but it’s the only way to address the reality of my continued lack of investment in something that I told others (and myself!) was so important. I knew the importance of it, but didn’t prioritize it like I needed to.
What Big Magic included were some very specific tips to help make the transition towards letting my creativity out. Liz ingeniously recommends having your fear write to you about what you are or should be scared of and then having you respond. Instead of avoiding fear or trying to minimize it, Liz recommends inviting it along for the ride, but not letting fear change the radio station and especially don’t let it get behind the wheel, as I unfortunately had.
I knew in my heart that writing was a powerful and important way to clarify thoughts and communicate ideas and values. And I knew I had important ideas and values and thoughts that I wanted to communicate. And yet I would get sucked into less meaningful things on a daily basis. Not altogether bad things, but just indolent things. Why? Because I was scared. I was scared I would write something and no one would read it. Or I would write something and everyone would read it and see that it sucked. Either way, fear had won because my ass was sitting on the sideline, getting an extra hour of sleep or catching up on the latest NBA game.
Liz inspired me to break through this fear in just the right way. I’m sure it’s not the right tone for everyone, but it was the right tone for me to hear. Calm and knowledgeable, but forceful that the rightful place of your ideas, feelings, and art is out in the world and not stuck in your head. She also helped me appreciate the subtleties of all the ways we can express creativity. It’s not just writing or painting, but also includes cooking or sharing one’s love for another.
A final key thing that Liz and I share is a firm belief in the superlativeness that each of us share inside us. There is something deep inside us that each of us that is so unique, so powerful, so restorative, so contributing to the world. Most of us never spend the time to discover that or are scared to accept what we learn. Liz directly challenges this limitation. And the world is a better place for it.