Everyone has at least one book in them and this how I found the chutzpah to put write mine
Many non-fiction authors write a book so it can perform its little dance as the big fat business card. The book helps peddle courses, consulting, keynotes, and more — in one big ass virtuous circle. It’s all in the service of some kind of Tony Robbins- esque marketing machine. And it kinda makes you wanna take a shower.
Writing, speaking, and consulting may all feed into the other, and at varying times, a book may take centre stage. For the most part, it acts as a prop. This logic must have been lodged somewhere in the back of my head, but it was not my main driver.
You don’t research and write six days a week for four freaking years without being a wee bit possessed.
Amplifying that Aha Moment
Mytrusted friend placed a firm hand on my shoulder and said, “Jonas, you’re the most unemployable person I know.” I was petrified. Jon was consoling me as I confessed my anxiety about my work ‘situation’.
After years of trying to run a business with the wrong partner, in the wrong industry, and in the wrong way– I burned out. My AHA-moment was a direct result of falling off my horse. Then and there I knew I had to indulge my curiosity and creativity.
Turns out that my workaholism had been a container for my fear of failure.
And instead of working smart and with purpose, I resorted to keeping my head down and toiling away harder. So I pulled up my socks and went back to school to figure out where I went wrong. Or perhaps why I went wrong.
I discovered that my approach to work had been crushing my spirit each day so I slowly experimented with a new approach that helped me come alive. I began to see that my vitality would only come when I viewed my idiosyncrasies as my currency. Following my nose is what led me to write this book.
In my pursuit of finding meaning, I discovered many others (ahem yes, we might call them SHAPERS) who were lit up by what they do. The common characteristics became clear: Producing over posturing. Empowering over embittering. Asking over telling. Giving over taking. Risking over regretting. Leaning in over opting out.
The fire within me burned bright to uncover the truth of what gives shapers their shimmer.
Jonh Grisham has been writing a book a year for over 30 years. On New Year’s Day, without fail, he starts a new one. Five days a week, each morning at 7 am, he’s in the same room, sitting in the same chair, tapping away on his same old trusty computer, and most importantly, with the same cup full of coffee. And like clockwork, six months later he’s finished
While we might not all need to be this regimented we all must learn to tame Resistance with a capital ‘R’. This is the internal saboteur — those f*cking voices inside your head that prevent you from shining.
Precisely how do we overcome them and continue to prevent them from holding us back? In my case these crickets showed up as, “What right do I have to write a book?” or “Is this all just a bunch of hogwash? Should I quit while I’m ahead? Am I good enough?” and in the next breath, “Will I ever finish this damn thing?”
It’s at this stage, where Steven Pressfield’s (non-fiction books) became my lifeline. “A pro shows up every morning no matter what…a pro is patient…a pro endures adversity. A pro plays hurt!” he exclaims.
So I first gave myself permission to write. Not as a one-time thing, but as an every single day commitment. A bonafide, can’t be broken, non-negotiable, shaken-not-stirred kinda deliberate practice. The book is merely the by-product. And suppressing Resistance is a daily operation just as much as continuing to challenge myself has become.
…Or so I choose to believe.
“Without an accurate accounting of our own abilities compared to others, what we have is not confidence but delusion…we must begin by seeing ourselves and the world in a new way for the first time,” writes marketeer Ryan Holiday. My existential opening provided me with the opportunity to cosy up to the unknown. Transitionsare now all of our strategic pathways.
Instead of conforming to what work wants me to be, I get to shape my work based on who I am.
A Vista Full of Possibility
Each day we’re given a chance to serve and an opportunity to lead with our feet on the ground. Many are in a position where they can fuse their passion and purpose. And if this is you, I believe it’s now our duty to do so.
Our past experiences and coding do not define us. Tomorrow does. What I studied, what I’ve done, who I am, and what I’m becoming is all connected. They transcend and include one another. I evolve and emerge from what was to what could be. And so do you.
My belief is that if you’re a good steward to your gifts, willing to trust your gut, to dance with the unknown, and continually stretch yourself— things will turn out alright. And if this all turns out to not be so —I’ll probably write another book investigating why.
It’s hard to tell dreamers to stop dreaming.
As I did, we often get knocked off our horse. It makes us question our strategies, stories, and the signals the world is giving us. But it also marks the turning points of our lives. We get to rest, reassess, and reset. We can brush the dirt off and show our true colors.
This is why I wrote SHAPERS. My turning point was saying Basta! Saying no to a way of life and work that saps my soul and instead, saying yes to a path that feeds it.
I see clearly now that Jon’s ‘unemployable’ wisecrack was really a heartfelt compliment. And I’ve since learned that flourishing in the future of work depends on the meaning we find within it.
Whether it’s writing a book, recording a song, launching a startup, taking up improv — there is no time like the present to stoke the spirit and experience what the world of work has on offer. It’s a chance to ignite that fervor within and by effect, fire up others too. Author Annie Dillard put it best:
“The impulse to keep to yourself what you have learned is not only shameful, it is destructive. Anything you do not give freely and abundantly becomes lost to you. You open your safe and find ashes.”
What would you do if nothing stood in your way? I know for me I couldn’t forgo writing you this.
I invite you to join me for the ride & grab your copy of SHAPERS here.