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Write (and Live) What You Know.

There are too many examples to count in which a struggling writer, faced with writer’s block or a tight deadline, experiences an epiphany, resulting in prolific prose only after he or she starts writing about what they know.

In an interview on CBS Sunday Morning, Maggie Gyllenhaal talked about directing “The Lost Daughter,” her first production as screenwriter and director. Based on a novel by Elena Ferrante, one of the book’s big truths now brought to the screen by Gyllenhaal is that “motherhood – even when it’s a choice, and a joy – is not always a pleasure.”

Gyllenhaal is raising two daughters of her own (ages 15 and 9) with husband and actor, Peter Sarsgaard. In the interview, she admits a lot of these feelings and experiences, fears, hopes and dreams, are things she has experienced as a mother. Writing the screenplay and producing the film would have been “impossible,” in Gyllenhaal’s words, without first experiencing motherhood.

This is but one example in a diverse myriad where our most effective and meaningful work comes from what we know. 

I couldn’t think of a more-wonderful jumping off point for a reassessment of our day-to-day work and lives: 

  • Are you doing and sharing what you know or what you think people want from you?
  • Do you come home energized at the end of the day or defeated?
  • Do you look forward to Monday morning or dread it?

It’s been the honor and privilege of my life to help more doctors and their employees come to realize the power in doing what you love, serving your higher sense of purpose and sharing your unique story with the world. It’s also been heartbreaking in the last few years to watch doctors, unhappy in practice, sell their business to the wrong person at the wrong time, only to discover the transition didn’t change anything from a stress or lifestyle point of view.

  • Live your true life and lean into God’s calling for you and you’ll be healthy, wealthy and wise.
  • Resist it and live for others or into some idea of what you think others want from you and heartbreak, frustration and isolation follow.

Be yourself. Share your unique experience. You’re not everyone’s cup of tea and that’s OK. The people who love you will really love the real you. You’ll shine like a beacon on a hill, creating an almost magical contagious effect that draws all the talent, opportunity and success to you that anyone could possibly desire. 

Gyllenhaal said it’s common in Hollywood for people in positions of power to think that “actors shouldn’t have ideas.” She found this incredibly damaging to her spirit and soul. So, she did something about it by living out her real purpose and started writing with the goal of directing. 

You might be living out a life that you find frustrating or damaging to your soul and spirit. I know I was for many years when my practice and personal life suffered. My advice to you is to change your mind. You don’t have to eat someone else’s agenda for your life. Not even for a minute. 

You do you. Let everyone else worry about everything and everyone else. 

There’s no one else on the planet exactly like you. You have a skill, gift and talent for precisely this moment in the arc of history and I encourage you embrace it and share it with the world.

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