“A room without books is like a body without a soul.”
~ Marcus Tullius Cicero
Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert
I loved this book so much. I read it years ago and still talk about it with people often. It’s a book about creativity, which means some people might dismiss it, if they don’t consider themselves a creative but as Liz says in the book: “If you’re alive, you’re a creative person.” And as far as I’m considered if you are an entrepreneur you’re highly creative or at least you need to be.
There are two main ways this book has influenced me. The first was a huge insight I had around fear. Realising that we don’t get to eradicate fear and more to the point, fear is always going to shout the loudest precisely when we are about to create something, anything. The question then becomes how can we continue to show up and create in the face of our fear?
Liz answers this question beautifully with her analogy of a road trip. She says this:
“It seems to me that the less I fight my fear, the less it fights back. If I can relax, fear relaxes, too. In fact, I cordially invite fear to come along with me everywhere I go. I even have a welcoming speech prepared for fear, which I deliver right before embarking upon any new project or big adventure.”
There are many other big ideas and aha moments I got from this book. One other that stands out is the idea that women, more than men, are prone to perfectionism. She says this:
“Perfectionism is a particularly evil lure for women, who, I believe, hold themselves to an even higher standard of performance than do men…too many women still seem to believe that they are not allowed to put themselves forward at all, until both they and their work are perfect and beyond criticism”
I’ve definitely witnessed this in my work with many female entrepreneurs but reading Gilberts’ words on the subject were powerful and affirming. When we are more aware of this propensity, we can take measures against it. I definitely have benefited from taking the “wild leaps” Gilbert says she wishes more women would risk taking.