What has helped me a lot over the years is moving from the idea of discipline to the idea of devotion. Pavarotti once said, “People say that I’m disciplined but it’s not discipline, it’s devotion, and there’s a big difference.” There is!
I discovered that I couldn’t white-knuckle the projects I had in mind—and I’ve done more than fifty books to this point—and tackle them just by dint of will. I had to access a place of love, interest, passion and curiosity, all of which are rough synonyms for devotion. Since I’m not a spiritual or religious person, I see devotion as a very human-sized thing, as the way we make real whatever we feel is important to us.
Like many young men, I initially came from a rather grandiose, arrogant and narcissistic place
This reframing helped me immensely when you discussed it at your Deep Writing Workshop at the Art of Living Center in Boone, NC last month. I used to feel weak and a failure when I searched for discipline to turn to the task of writing a book; now I feel liberated and purposeful when I devote myself daily to my writing. Thank you for a much more motivating (and accurate) metaphor for creating meaningful work.