The Sh*t Sandwich

You’ll have to forgive me for the title of this blog post – I just couldn’t resist!

I am currently reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s book Big Magic:  Creative Living Beyond Fear.  A friend (Nancy Hotson – check out her wonderful blog here) recommended the book to me.  And then, without knowing this, my mother gave it to me for my birthday.  Coincidence?  I think not!

This is Elizabeth Gilbert of Eat, Pray, Love fame.  In Big Magic, she discusses the attitudes, approaches, and habits we need in order to live our most creative lives.  By this, she means not only writing, acting or painting, but also infusing our everyday lives with more creativity and passion.  She encourages readers to live a life that is driven more strongly by curiosity than by fear.  The book is divided into six sections, each devoted to a quality that Gilbert believes is necessary for living without fear:  courage, enchantment, permission, persistence, trust and divinity.

Without going into a ton of detail, let me just say that this book landed in my lap at exactly the right time and I have thoroughly enjoyed reading it.  So back to the shit sandwich…

In one of her chapters, Gilbert references a blog that she read (entitled 7 Strange Questions That Help You Find Your Life Purpose – genius!).  In this blog, the author asserts that the secret to finding your purpose in life is to answer this question:  “What’s your favourite flavor of shit sandwich?”  What the author means is that every single pursuit involves some kind of disagreeable aspect.  In other words, nothing is pleasurable or uplifting all of the time.  So, the key then is to find something that you love enough that you can handle the rough patches and ride out the inevitable bad days.

This got me to thinking about the roles that I have held…  As a former management consultant, most would say that the extensive travel was the shit sandwich.  I would probably say that it was the never-ending pursuit of the perfect PowerPoint pages.  And as a former executive recruiter, it was the candidate reports that were inevitably written at night because the daytime hours were reserved for calls and interviews.

Anyway, I thought that this was an ingenious way of looking at work.  We all need to understand that not every day will be perfect.  The best we can probably hope for is 80%.  But it is critical that you are able to ride out the 20%.

I’m still trying to work out what the shit sandwich will be for writing.  Because there’s always one waiting for us!

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