Do the Work

I’ve just finished Steven Pressfield’s book Do The Work. It is a quick, impactful read on overcoming resistance. For a limited time, the hardcover edition is under $10 and the Kindle edition is free.

You likely will pull several quotes out of this book as reminders to keep moving forward. Pressfield’s discussion of Assistance – as the remedy to Resistance – spoke to me. He houses doing on a foundation of why we do what we do: “Only two things will remain with us across the river: our inhering genius and the hearts we love. In other words, what we do and whom we do it for.”

  • Immersing myself in this brilliant “get it done” manifesto brought up a lot of emotions…

You see, I’ve always been a strong do-er. A logical, disciplined finisher who didn’t sacrifice quality. I graduated top of my class, in both my undergraduate and graduate schools. I had a system to get things done quickly and well, and I worked it.

In early 2008, looking at my life from outside in, I was on top of my game. My performance sciences consulting firm was thriving in its work of supporting elite athletes. The business world was knocking on my door, hungry for my peak performance and mindset tools to grow their people. My speaking fees had more than quadrupled as I’d finished my second book in 18 months, including a big contract with a New York publishing house.

And then…one evening, I felt stabbing pains in my chest. Perhaps I pulled a muscle, I thought. The next day, in the middle of a session with the head coach of a Division I athletic team, my thinking suddenly became fuzzy, as though my brain had been wrapped in wool. I excused myself and headed home. As I began driving, I felt so off-kilter, I drove straight to a doctor’s office instead.

Initial tests indicated a heart attack or pulmonary embolism – surprising conditions for a woman in her early 40s. The doctor sent me directly to the hospital. The following weeks were a blur of medical appointments, bed rest, and trips to the emergency room when symptoms took a sharp turn for the worse.

Doctor after doctor failed to provide any solutions that improved my condition. Finally, my internist determined that a virus had gone into my heart, wreaking havoc on my ability to function. The pathogens flourished, eventually spreading to my nervous system.

My body went completely haywire. At times, I lost my ability to walk and to talk clearly. On a few terrifying mornings, I woke up in a cloud of grey, unable to see the world around me. Weeks passed while I was confined to bed. Months would pass before I would work or even drive a car.

Every day I am grateful for this gift.

Yes, this gift. This immediate deconstruction of my life and respite from “doing” brought an inherent invitation to rebuild. Consciously. Intentionally. Proactively.

Out of this period of darkness grew my company, Best Life Design, and my mission to collaborate with other experts to help people in our communities relentlessly carve out their best life design and grow a thriving lifestyle business in a way that fuels their health and relationships.

Out of this period of darkness grew my event, Make an Impact LIVE! This is the stage I used to first share the story of my illness and healing. It is the stage I used to give a nod to both the doctors and the healers who helped me rebuild my heart and my life. It is the stage I used to show up fully as a lover of science and a lover of people.

Out of this period of darkness grew the book that will be released this year: Walking with Justice. My illness allowed me to reconnect with the love and lessons offered to me as a young lawyer from a wise judge, my life’s greatest mentor. This is the man who taught me that the quality of my life is determined by my service to humanity. The experience of my healing brought me back to the lessons of the judge and let me see them in the wholeness in which they were offered.

Out of this period of darkness grew crystal clarity and artful boundary setting and the letting go of anything that did not support my ability to thrive and do my best work. This allowed me to help others not by sacrificing my health, but to share from the abundance created by living a life of love and purpose and meaningful service. Service shifted from what had become an act of depletion to an act of helping others as a natural extension of living and loving from my heart.

Initially, my illness created a pendulum swing that took this left-brain dominant lawyer and scientist to what felt like a mushy pile of love. Then teachers appeared to show me how to fully integrate my head and heart. The false dichotomies I had created for these two worlds fell apart. A light bulb went off as Tom Peters taught me, “what’s hard is soft … and what’s soft is hard.”

Today I am as passionate about completing and shipping as ever before. I do the work. I’ve simply discovered how to be rewarded as much by the process as by the product.

I continue to unwrap the gifts of light provided from this period of darkness. Unwrap and share. Unwrap and share. As sweet as my life was before my illness, this journey has brought a savoring of my daily life never before imagined.

You don’t need your life to deconstruct in order to make changes. Big changes…consist simply of hundreds of little ones. Begin now.

Embrace your unique brilliance and gifts of the mind. Embrace your unique goodness and gifts of the heart. Then share in love. The world is waiting…for your great work.


Leave A Reply (8 comments So Far)

  • Hi Dr Mollie, Great article! I just read Do the Work too, his book War of Art is one of my favorite books. I am a doer too with huge goals and to do lists and this year I am focusing on allowing and flow instead of pushing so that I don’t end up with a health crisis wake up call. It is also in alignment with my mission of helping entrepreneurs with more sales more profits and more time to spend with who they love, giving entrepreneurs back to their families, since my dad died young with too much time at the office, not enough living.

    I look forward to learning more from you.

    ~ Stacey

    • Mollie

      You have a big WHY – giving your kids more years with their mom than you had with your dad and helping give other biz people back to their families. (I lost my parents far too young, too). You’re wise to shift from a doer who pushes through to a doer who learns to work with your body and is fueled by strong alignment. Thanks for stopping by Best Life Design to learn with us!

  • Mollie-
    I’m laughing at “mushy pile of love.”

    Thanks for sharing your story in this article.

    One thing I learned when my world came crashing down in a near death experience of my own was unless you WANT to make changes you can easily slide back into the way things were before the wake up call.

    I love the idea of doing the work.

    Thanks for the inspirational reminder!
    Felicia Slattery

    • Funny how that sounds being “read” back to me – mushy pile of love. Haha Yep, it’s how it felt 🙂

      Great point re back sliding – have found constant reminders, accountability, changing environment to help changes stick, and staying with new practices until they become habitual are key.

  • Thank you so much for this post! I recently discovered (the hard way) that I needed to make big changes in my life too. This post was very timely and appreciated 🙂

    • Glad you found this helpful and best wishes with your changes, Heather. Keep breaking down those “big changes” into smaller steps and keep moving forward!

  • @9e3ec68fdc5d6c206fb8e08b152ab89d:disqus thanks for sharing your story and the story behind Best Life Design. Good luck for “Walking the Justice”. Keep doing the work, helping people and living your dream.

    • Thanks, Mohit. It’s been great getting to know you through the Domino Project Street Team. You are an inspiration to me as I watch you Do The Work. Here’s to a lifetime of doing great work as we walk out our dreams and help more people!