It’s inevitable that we’ll eventually run out of steam. Passion fuels our purpose and yet sometimes we need help from outside ourselves. Or at least more than we can muster on our own. When I’m facing a blank page or a steep wall I bury myself in the words of those who have gone before me. Inspiring books come from people who not only share their struggle and their journey, but how it gave them strength. Their words give me courage to come out from behind my fears and the permission to fight, because sometimes we need to do that too. Without knowing, these writers call out to the thing God planted in me simply because it’s planted in them too.
Let’s face it: Resistance is everywhere. Start moving forward and you’re sure to run into something. Criticism, discouragement or just a steep mountain to climb. I’ll admit, far too often the resistance grinds me to a halt. I question myself, my ability and my calling. But the simple fact remains: whenever you face resistance, it means you’re moving forward. At any moment you can stop. And there will be no resistance.
Today let’s embrace resistance for the simple fact that it tells us we’re moving forward. Let’s remember it’s the struggle that builds our strength and smooth sailing never made a skillful sailor. Here are 5 books I love so much, and remember when passion dims or discouragement mounts. You can click on any of the blue links below to purchase directly on Amazon.
1.Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption: Let me say this: if you’ve seen the movie, you have not read the whole story. In boyhood, Louis Zamperini was an incorrigible delinquent. As a teenager, he channeled his defiance into running, discovering a prodigious talent that had carried him to the Berlin Olympics. But when World War II began, the athlete became an airman, embarking on a journey that led to a doomed flight on a May afternoon in 1943. When his Army Air Forces bomber crashed into the Pacific Ocean, against all odds, Zamperini survived, adrift on a foundering life raft. Ahead of Zamperini lay thousands of miles of open ocean, leaping sharks, thirst and starvation, enemy aircraft, and, beyond, a trial even greater. Driven to the limits of endurance, Zamperini would answer desperation with ingenuity; suffering with hope, resolve, and humor; brutality with rebellion. His fate, whether triumph or tragedy, would be suspended on the fraying wire of his will. Unbroken is an unforgettable testament to the resilience of the human mind, body, and spirit and a book that left me speechless.
2. The Power of Starting Something Stupid: How to crush fear, make dreams happen, and live without regret: I simply do not own another book that I have dog-eared, underlined or sticky-note flagged more pages. Succinctly put: it’s brilliant. In this powerful book, Richie Norton redefines stupid as we know it, demonstrating that life-changing ideas are often mislabeled “stupid.” But what if the key to success, creativity, and fulfillment in your life lies in the potential of those “stupid” ideas? He says learning how to start something stupid is the smartest thing you can do. I agree. And I love this book!
3. Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead: This life-changing book is based on one of my favorite quotes by Theodore Roosevelt: It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly. Every day we experience the uncertainty, risks and emotional exposure that define what it means to be vulnerable, or to dare greatly. In this book, Dr. Brene Brown dispels the cultural myth that vulnerability is weakness and argues that it is, in truth, our most accurate measure of courage. I couldn’t agree more.
4. Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life: This book might tie for the most underlines. I just reread the introduction and fell in love with Anne Lamott all over again. I cannot think of another writer more truthful and brave. Like her or not, agree with her politics or not, her writing is powerful and I’m grateful for it. I decided to share one of the many underlines in the book, this one found on page 226. She is encouraging writers to write in a directly emotional way, instead of being too subtle or oblique. She writes: If something inside you is real, we will probably find it interesting, and it will probably be universal. So you must risk placing real emotion at the center of your work. Write straight into the emotional center of things. Write toward vulnerability. Don’t worry about appearing sentimental. Worry about being unavailable; worry about being absent or fraudulent. Risk being unliked. Tell the truth as you understand it. If you’re a writer, you have a moral obligation to do this. And it is a revolutionary act – truth is always subversive. Far too often we are surrounded by people not speaking the truth. They play coy with their thoughts or speak in subtlety and generality. I sometimes go home wondering what exactly they were trying to say. Often I’m not very sure if it’s kind. I much prefer brave truth-tellers who just say it like it is. Regardless whether their beliefs line up with mine, they always have something to teach.
5. The Long Walk: The True Story of a Trek to Freedom by Slavomir Rawicz: This book chronicles perhaps the most extraordinary true story of human endurance in recorded history. Slavomir Rawicz is unjustly imprisoned by the Communist Russians early in World War II. Confined to a cell so small he must sleep by collapsing with his knees against the wall and his feet steeped in his own waste. Later transported to Siberia by train, he is marched through the cold countryside to a Soviet Gulag, witnessing the death by exposure and exhaustion of other unfortunate captives along the way. In the prison camp he is set in forced labor, kept in horrendous conditions, over-worked, and underfed. Near the end of his rope, Rawicz and a handful of companions orchestrate a daring and desperate escape, and then proceed to run for their lives, on foot, toward freedom in India–4,000 miles away. Here, they must conquer the frozen Siberian tundra, the Gobi desert, the Himalayan Mountains, starvation, the Soviets, and their own inner demons. It’s a story that both haunts and inspires, and one I’ll never forget.
Whatever resistance you face today, embrace it! Let it remind you of the strength you are building for the journey that lies ahead — and the simple fact that it means you are moving forward. It’s a beautiful thing to celebrate.
Also, I’d love to know, what books inspire you? Happy Friday friends!