“Most of the ordinary people whom I have studied, when first confronted with the notion of dharma, imagined that for them to claim their dharma probably meant inventing an entirely new life…. Not so. As it turns out, most people are already living very close to their dharma. Really. Within spitting range…. Their own sacred calling is hiding in plain sight. They keep just missing it.” -Stephen Cope
This fall I got an email from Shelley who was reading The Great Work Of Your Life. She was excited about it and thought I might like it, too. I ordered it immediately; but honestly, if I had seen this book on my own in a bookstore or online, I suspect I would have judged it by its cover and moved on to something more appealing. Fortunately, that isn’t what happened.
Stephen Cope, author of The Great Work Of Your Life, has an amazing job title: he is the director of the Institute for Extraordinary Living at the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health. If the words “extraordinary living” grab your attention, then so will his book.
Make sure you read the front matter, A Note To The Reader as well as the Introduction; and if like me you’re not familiar with the Bhagavad Gita, a two-thousand-year-old text, don’t let yourself be intimidated. Cope explains “this is a book about dharma — about vocations and callings” which includes stories of both illustrious lives (Jane Goodall, Beethoven, Marion Woodman, Mohandas Gandhi….) and ordinary lives (you, me, the author, his college roommate….). All are examined in the light of the Bhagavad Gita, a dialogue between the very overwhelmed warrior Arjuna and his charioteer mentor Krishna, revealing “a path to the authentic self through action in the world.” Story by story, Cope highlights important principles for true and fulfilled living in the midst of longing, confusion, fear, and doubt. Interestingly, Cope’s study has brought him to a place where “there is no longer really any distinction at all between great lives and ordinary lives.” I found each story fascinating and compelling.
Cope structures the book around the four pillars of Dharma: Discern your dharma (your calling), Do it full out, Let go of outcomes, and Turn it over to God. His selection of stories within each section nears perfection, as does his compassion and understanding in telling them. In his position of privilege and confidence he could easily abuse his role, instead he lovingly witnesses and honors the process of each person’s dilemma.
NOTE: I asked Shelley to join me in February or March for a sort of “one-book” book group. We’ll invite others who have read the book to meet with us to talk about it and it’s effect on our lives. The events calendar page on this website will have details once we select a date and time.
“[Some of us] won’t succeed through traditional means because force, fear, and standard projections do not motivate us. We are moved by bold ideas, big love, and intuitive, flawless direction…. We did not come here to do what’s been done before. We came here to expand—inspire, heal, express, create, and realize the exhilaration of being everything we are meant to be.” -Tama Kieves
Ten years ago Tama Kieves self-published her first book This Time I Dance: Trusting the Journey of Creating the Work You Love: How One Harvard Lawyer Left It All To Have It All. Within a year, her book was picked up and released nationally by Tarcher/Penguin. If you’re interested, you can find a review of This Time I Dance in an earlier newsletter.
Inspired & Unstoppable, her long-awaited second book, brings readers and fans up to date on her story of having a dream and making it happen. Kieves is as passionate and as honest as ever, but now in addition to being a successful writer she is also an international motivational speaker, spiritual teacher, and success coach.
Expect a bit of overlap between the two books; the focus of This Time I Dance was on Kieves own “journey of transition” while the focus of Inspired & Unstoppable is on the reader’s journey. “This book is about wildly succeeding in your life’s work: taking what you came here to do to the next level.”
Kieves believes in a path of inspired success, rather than one of linear success. She doesn’t offer a one-size-fits-all plan with clear and easy steps. Instead, she tells stories that illuminate the brilliant inner guidance, resources, and power of those she coaches, with the expectation that readers will be inspired and guided into their own unique genius. “You deserve to succeed in your own way, unlike anyone before you, and beyond everyone’s wildest imagination, including your own.”
Learn more about Tama Kieves.
“If you try to keep your most sacred ambitions off of your weekly calendar and your most genuine traits off of your resume, then you’re missing out on the power of real integrity.” -Danielle Laporte
If it’s super important for you to be real, to live and work on your own terms, then Danielle Laporte’s new book will interest you. Laporte is smart, accomplished, irreverent, and soulful — and so is her book. Open it anywhere, flip through a few pages, and you’ll discover a book with visual attitude. It’s got spunk!
The text is lively and fun to read. Laporte includes lots of great quotations, to-the-heart questions, and appealing worksheet-style exercises in every chapter. Here are a few example worksheets: The Burning Questions, Dream Analysis, and The Stop-Doing List which is one of my favorites. Her advice is spot on. In session 3, The Strategy of Desire, the focus is on How do you want to feel? “Knowing how you actually want to feel is the most potent form of clarity that you can have. Generating those feelings is the most creative thing you can do with your life.”
How many writers do you know who include the playlist they “listened to obsessively” while creating the book? See page 329. Learn more about Danielle Laporte.