The Great Work of Your Life tells the stories of a lot of familiar names that we’ve heard of and how they found their deeper purpose that was hidden in their life. This book teaches us how to embrace that and the journey of finding your dharma.
1:30 – Finding your deeper purpose already hidden in your life
2:40 – The Gandhi that we know that changed the world he wasn’t born knowing he was going to do that
4:12 – Susan B. Anthony changing women’s rights at a time when it was almost impossible to even have a voice that was heard
This is Roger from Enfusen. Our book review today will be Stephen Cope, The Great Work of Your Life: A Guide for the Journey to Your True Calling.
If you would’ve put a book like this in front of me 4 years ago I’d a probably used it to start a bonfire. If you would’ve given it to me 6 months ago it would probably have coffee stains on it. If you look at this book now, this is book has traveled all over the place with me. It’s beat up. It actually got lost for a day and then it was found, amazing.
The reason for that is this is about the quest for finding your true self, which isn’t something that I really spent a lot of time on earlier in life. The way that Cope walks through this is really using the Bhagavad Gita in the story of Arjuna, his mentor, Krishna. I’m not going to go too deep into that story. What I would say is that this book prompted me to buy the Bhagavad Gita to read it because the story seemed so influential from history, major religion, but also from a personal experience standpoint that I was kind of blown away.
What I really liked about this book is it had amazing principles, but more importantly, it showed how those principles were true fact through the stories of some of the most well-known people throughout history, modern history to be more specific.
What it comes down to is finding your deeper purpose that is already hidden in your life. I want to stop on that for a second. I, myself, and a lot of other people I believe when they go searching for their deeper purpose they think that it’s out there or it’s over there or it was missed in the past. My belief was that this book is to help you realize that it’s already there. It’s already in you. It’s already screaming for attention. You just have to stop trying to listen and you’ll be able to hear it.
Let me give you a few, some contextual stories that came from this book that might help with that, that I was blown away with. The stories in this book follow John Keats, Susan B. Anthony, Jane Goodall, Henry David Thoreau, Walt Whitman, Robert Frost, and I forgot to even mention Gandhi.
I was talking to my wife about this book and I was like, “I didn’t know that Gandhi was not only a failure at an attorney, he was an epic failure.” When I say epic failure, he got a big case he got so scared that he ran out of the courtroom embarrassing his family and then had to leave the country because he was so embarrassed.
The Gandhi that we know that changed the world for an entire country, or changed the destiny of an entire country. He wasn’t born, maybe he was born to do that, but he wasn’t born knowing that he was going to do that. At the age of 26 he was a complete and utter failure. It was his idea to lead a group of people to burn their identification cards that really set him on a path to his destiny, his dharma, that was unknown to him before that.
I really liked the story of Jane Goodall, and more importantly, her mother. Jane Goodall actually started down her path at 4 years old. A lot of people could be starting down their path as a child. If you’re a parent or if you have staff and they might not have realized what their path is I think it’s our responsibility to find that in them, help them acknowledge it and help them embrace it.
Jane Goodall at 4 years old was hiding in chicken coops so that she could learn how chickens laid eggs. Her parents freaked the fuck out the first time she did that because they couldn’t find her for an entire day. Instead of scolding her, her mom embraced her. Most people don’t know that when Jane Goodall went over into the rain forest to spend the rest of her life with the chimpanzees her mom went with her. Her mom set up her camp. Her mom took care of her personal needs because she was helping Jane embrace everything that she could possibly be and the amazing work that she would end up doing.
I could talk about all of these stories, what I learned about Susan B. Anthony and the way that she helped changed women’s rights in this country at a time when it was nearly impossible to even have a voice that was heard. I’ve always been a huge fan of Henry David Thoreau. You know what was interesting, and this might sound like a negative, but to me it was kind of funny, is that Walden is one of my favorite books. I never knew that Walden Pond was actually 2.3 miles from his parent’s house. His mom used to bring him food. Basically he was camping in the back yard for 18 months. He wasn’t really out on some spiritual mission. The clarity that he got and the writing that he did in that short period of time is some of the greatest poetical works of I’d say modern history, but definitely American literature.
Robert Frost, in order to follow his dharma, he bought a farm. That sounds funny, but what he wanted was he wanted isolation from the world to concentrate on being the best writer that he could be. There’s so many stories in here about people that at 50, 60, 70 years old, all they’re saying is I need 10 more years to perfect my art and I will be the best that I can possibly be. On their death beds people were still saying that.
If I put it back to you and I looked for a principle that’s from this book but it’s bigger then this book, if you look at what you’re doing today and you’re not striving to be the greatest at it, I’m not talking about just making money, but the greatest at it because you believe it’s your life’s work. You believe that what you’re doing is going to create greater impact in the world that you’re going to help people well beyond making money or just the impact of clients or people that you serve. I highly recommend this book because the clarity that comes with this vision isn’t easy to find, but it’s liberating once you have it.
It’s an absolutely wonderful book. If you look at my library you’d see I’ve not let books get wrinkled like this. This is the one that was with me at the beach. It traveled with me on multiple flights to multiple cities. Chapters have been read and reread. I highly recommend you take a look at this book and you look to see if you can figure out what the great work of your life is.
I don’t know that Stephen Cope will ever see this book review, but this book is pure brilliance. Thank you.