Steven Pressfield is a screenwriter and NYT best-selling author. Having worked for 27 years before having his first novel published, Steven understands a lot about creating from a place of action instead of creating from a place of expectation. Steven believes that we have no control over external circumstances; we only have control over our self-discipline, our self-motivation, and how smart we can work.
In this episode, Dr. Jade and Steven discuss his creative process, the importance of being committed to the work we want to share with the world, and the importance of ‘putting our ass where our heart wants to be’ meaning committing to certain goals so we can get the outcome of this effort. With a very straightforward approach, Steven also explains that once we dedicate ourselves to our purpose, everything unfolds in front of us – even if it takes a long time.
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Podcast Intro: [00:14] welcome to the Next Level Human Podcast. As a human, you have a job to do. In fact, you have four jobs; to earn and manage money, to attain and maintain health and fitness, to build and sustain personal relationships, to find meaning and make a difference. None of these jobs are taught in school and that is what this podcast is designed to do. To educate us all on living our most fulfilled lives through the mastery of these four jobs. I'm your host, Dr. Jade Teta and I believe we are here living this life for three reasons and three reasons only; to learn, to teach and to love. In this podcast, I will be learning, teaching, and loving right along with you. I'm grateful to have your company; here is to our next level.
Episode Intro: [01:18] All right, all right. Welcome, everybody to the show. Today, I have a really incredible guest today incredible, because this is someone who I have been reading, paying attention to consider a muse and mentor of mine in terms of someone who has really directed my life through his work, although this is the first time he and I are meeting and this is the artist, Steven Pressfield. Artist writer, you may know him legends of Bagger Vance of the Gates of Fire, he is someone who has written in both genres, nonfiction and fiction and been incredibly successful at doing that you probably know his work. And we're going to have conversation today about his newest book, which is this one right here, put your ass where your heart wants to be. I've already read it once and I'm on my second read. This is one of these books that is incredibly powerful. It's almost as if Steven you took like, just the bare bones wisdom of your life, put it into a book and made it like every single page is loaded with wisdom. And sometimes I have to stop with these very short chapters, and play it again, or look at it again. But I just want to say thank you so much for being here on the next level human podcast. Thank you so much for your work. And why don't we start with you telling a little bit about your story of how you got here. And then let's get into the book.
Well, first, thanks for having me, Jade, it's a real pleasure after, you know, sort of years of knowing each other via Instagram and other places like that. Thanks for having me. Absolutely. So I'm not exactly sure what you want me to say. But I'm really just sort of a background of where I'm coming from that sort of
Yeah, you know, what I think would be interested for us interesting for all of us, Steven is this idea of like, you know, most people, they see you and they see your body of work. And they go, you know, this must have always been easy for him this, you know, he's already made it. And I know a little bit about your story. And I know that that's far from the case that you went through a lot of the same struggles that a lot of us went through. So why don't we go back to the beginning before you were a successful writer, when you were just hoping and dreaming to be and walk us a little bit through what was going on and how you made this sort of hero's journey to get where you are today?
Well, I sort of, I first quit a job, I had a job in advertising in New York City. And I quit when I was I think 24 To try to write a book. And I finally got a book published when I was 55. So that might give you a little bit. So along the way that I went through a lot of jobs and a lot of failure and wrote my I had an old boss who uses describe me as the man who has written more words for less money than anybody in the history of the world. So it was definitely a long slog for me. Before I did finally sort of my feet finally touch solid ground. You know, in a lot of traveling a lot of different jobs, that kind of thing.
Yeah. So this is a this is an interesting thing. So in your 20s you're writing and you're you know, and then you finally get published in your 50s. And from my perspective, most people Steven would have just quit, they just would have said you know what, it's not for me, this is not my world. I'm just gonna give up no one wants to listen to what I have to say. How did you because you know, I have this thing that we're sometimes we believe so strongly in what we're doing. But the world has also given us feedback. And you know what it reminds me of like American Idol. When these people get up on stage. And they sing, and they swear, they can sing. But then we go, Oh my God, who ever told them they can sing. And so when you're an artist writing and doing this work, and you know, you're good, but the world isn't giving you feedback? It's hard, I would imagine to not sometimes go, maybe I'm just no good at this. Like, why isn't? Why doesn't anyone want to buy my work? Why isn't anyone paying attention? And I am so interested in how you kept going during these times where the world was seemingly telling you, Steven, we don't want to, no one wants to read your work. No one wants to pay attention, you must have had something going on in your head that made you just go I believe in what I'm doing. And I'm going to keep after it.
Well, you know, I really was no good, Jake. You know, that's the thing about at least about writing, it might be different in fitness, because there's kind of an age factor a little bit. But the thing about writing is that you can get better, you know, for years, I mean, every now and then, like the first three novels that I wrote, I couldn't sell. And every now and then I would take them out of the drawer today, right? And ask myself, you know, because there any way to and I look at him, I got milk that belong in the drawer, and I better stay there. But the other thing for me was that many, I mean, what you were just the monologue that you were just saying that maybe the world is you're just not good enough, you know, what you're bringing to the table, nobody wants. I mean, that was a loop just playing in my head, you know, for 30 years non stop. And there were times when I tried to go straight A lot of times, you know, when I tried to get like a real job, and really settle down like a normal adult human being, but I could never do it. I mean, at the end of the day, I would be so depressed, that if I didn't, you know, just sort of keep trying to write even though nobody wanted, but I would just I just couldn't, couldn't stand it, you know. So I sort of really had no plan B, or no working plan B, you know, everything every time I would try to do that. It was just so depressing that I just, you know, couldn't do it. So I just had no choice to sort of keep going. And the other thing is that little by little along the way. It wasn't all just failure, failure. Like before I actually had a novel published, I had a career as a screenwriter for about 10 years. And that at least I never did anything good. Never made a lot of money or anything like that. But at least I was working in my field, right? I was learning what a story was, and I was getting paid. So there was elements of success there, even though it wasn't the real success that I wanted. So that kept me going for that. For that period of time. There was hope I was learning I was getting better.
Yeah, so it sounds like if I'm hearing you, right, it's this idea that, you know, KJ, one, self awareness, like, it's really interesting for people like us to go, Okay, here's Steven Pressfield, who just was like, Jade, I wasn't any good at the time. So there's that going on, you're getting better. But there's the other part of you going, Okay, I have this loop in my head that maybe people don't want to read my work yet. I feel so deeply in my heart that this is what I'm meant to do. And if I'm not doing it, I'm not happy. And so it sounds like you were like looking for anything possible where you could be engaged in this work. So you get hooked up being a screenwriter, maybe you weren't the chief screenwriter, maybe you were in the group with, you know, five or six people and you were maybe the last on the list, but you were learning and you were honing your craft and you were staying in the zone of what you loved. And this speaks a little bit to obviously, the book, the theme of this book is you right? It's like this idea that if I want to do something and feeling in my heart, then I need to put my proverbial ass in that place. My physical body needs to be in that place. And it seems like this is exactly what you were doing when you were young. Okay, maybe you weren't going to sell the novel right men, but you were going to be in the room.
Yes, and what I when I say put your ass where your heart wants to be. There's a lot of different levels of that. But the primary one when I say ass, is what I really mean is commitment and, you know, put your you know, your risk, you know, it's a risk anytime you put your commitment someplace, right? You commit to, to, if you're a trainer, and you're committing to some kind of program that you want to expand in your life and that you can fall on your ass on that right you can lose you know, so but once the point of putting your ass where your heart wants To be is that a certain magic happens when you put your physical body in the place that you want to be. And when you put your, your aspirational body, your metaphysical body, your commitment in a place, I really believe that the universe lines up with you that you change your DNA changes, when you truly commit when you're not sort of half assed about it, one foot in one foot out. And so I'll give myself credit for that my ass was in it all the time, it just took a long, long time. The other thing is that just for whatever this is worth to our listeners, the work that I was doing, when I finally did start to get published, was qualitatively different, and qualitatively better than it was earlier than that, but not just not just better in the sense that it was at a higher level of skill, it was coming from a different place, it was coming from a more authentic place. For me, I had really sort of, at the point that I actually started to sell stuff. I was I was really writing from my heart, you know, I was not writing to try to do something that people would like, or that I thought was cool, I was really coming from a different place. So it was a sort of a, there was a kind of a breakthrough there at some point. And after that, things were a lot easier.
Yeah, that what you just said, is a fascinating area for us as humans, because I think when I think about psychology, I think that we have two, two or three sides of us. One side is this base level side of psychology, which is, it's sort of just like, the world is all about me, me, me. And I just want to exert power and control. The next level up is sort of the culture level where it's like I'm going to do and produce work that the culture likes. And then the next level of human side of things, from my perspective is this idea that I'm simply going to do the work, because I feel called to the work. And I'm going to do what's you know, in my heart, and let's see what shows up. And it sounds like you made that transition, somewhere along the line. And I'm wondering if you can remember, when, like, when did you make that that? Was it a choice? Did it just sort of show up that way? Or was there a time and a moment where you were just like, You know what, I'm fed up? I am just going to start writing what's in my heart. And whatever happens with it happens with it? Was there a time that you can remember that that actually was your state of mind?
That's a great question, Jaden. And I also like your three part. thing there. I've never thought of it that way. And I agree with that. But there was a time like, the first book that I wrote that actually I felt was from my heart was the Legend of Bagger Vance, that, you know, became a movie was a lousy movie, but it's a good book, if anybody has resurrected. It's a good book anyway. I, the way that happened was, I was at the end of maybe a 10 year, screenwriting career. And in that, I've probably written maybe 35 screenplays, something like that. And of all genres, a westerns, detective stories, science fiction, and I that was sort of like what you just said, as trying to sort of find what the market wanted? Or what, what, you know what I could I fill a demand that was out there. And then what happened with Bagger Vance was, the idea just kind of came to me, it really is sort of mystical, in a way, it kind of came to be out of nowhere, as a book, not as a movie. And I remember at the time, I had a meeting with my agent, and told them that I was going to write this book. And the short version is he basically fired me. He basically said, and he was right, he said, I've been busting my ass for you for five years, Steve, now we've got a career going, and you're gonna believe it. But I had no choice. I was just kind of seized by this. And when I kind of looked back on that book, and the way it was structured, it just, it just came out of my ass, if you'll forgive me for putting it. It's like now if I would, as a more experienced, right, if I went back in that book and tried to structure it like I did, I would not have done it that way. But it just kind of came out of me. So I would have to say, some other force was at work there. And I really didn't make the decision. I really didn't say, Oh, I'm just gonna write from my heart. You know, it just kind of came out of me and I just didn't stop it. And that was my contribution was just not to stop it. Yeah. And after that, I really feel like everything I've done after that has been from my heart, one way or another. They all feel like children of mine and I'm proud of all Yeah,
it's almost as if like when you're talking about it, it's almost as if you It was something being channeled through you that needed to be birthed. That only you could do you know that that book, by the way, I love that book. Because while it's while it's about golf on the surface, it's a very philosophical, very deep book. That's why I think everyone needs to read Legend of Bagger Vance, because I think they think golf when they when they fit with that book, but that book is a very deep philosophical book.
And I did today, and I thought, when I was working on that, I thought to myself, this is the dumbest idea I've ever had. This is completely non commercial. Nobody's gonna read this book, even I wouldn't read a book. If I were describing this book to people, I would, you know, they'll just say, what are you crazy, this is just totally stupid. But I couldn't stop myself, I was just seized by I just had to do it. And, to my amazement, really, when it went, and I started submitting it, it's sold in like two minutes, and which is utterly unheard of and became a movie and another two minutes after that. So there's something to the idea that when you finally do sort of hit the bullseye, a lot of times to you, to the individual, it seems completely wrong. It's like, why am I doing is a crazy idea. Nobody's gonna like this except me, nobody's gonna be interested in it, except me. It doesn't, in my experience, you don't think of it like, Oh, this is a slam dunk. I've really, I'm really on target with this one, it seems to be the opposite. And it's happened with other books, too, where I thought like gates to fire my second book, I also thought, this is another crazy idea that nobody's going to be interested in but me. But again, I was sort of seized by it. So sometimes, I think the ideas that we have that really are breakthrough ideas seem crazy, even to us. You know, there's a lot of self doubt there a lot of questioning of, you know, why do I love this so much. But again, there is a certain element of another dimension coming in, or a greater wisdom coming in there. The Muse knows that what we're doing is right, even if we don't believe it at the moment.
Yeah. And what's interesting about that, when you use the term muse, and I want to cover this, I want to just talk to you about it, cuz I think it's fascinating, because whenever I hear you talk about the muse, you don't seem to talk about the muse, like a lot of people do like that. It's just sort of this not real thing that's kind of out there that sort of influences you, you seem to talk about it like no, there is an actual real force, perhaps even a real spirit that is, you know, essentially working through you. And I find this absolutely phenomenal, especially when you think about the trajectory that you sort of come through. So here's a guy who's, you know, God is asking the chair, doing the work in the screenplay, 30 years, and all of a sudden, he comes up with this crazy idea that even logically to him, seems like, I don't know that anyone's gonna buy this. He goes to his agent, his agent goes, You're crazy. And then he does it anyway, out of sheer sheer feeling. And then it turns into this amazing thing to your surprise, and then I just go, obviously, having that felt experience tells you that there's something deeper going on here. And I want to know, when you first were like, Oh, my gosh, something deeper is going on. And I think it might be this sort of magical realm, like when did that first come to you? Because obviously, it wouldn't have come to you without this deep felt experience?
It's another great question, Jaden. Like, year, I'll give you the long answer to this. years earlier, probably 20 years earlier, I had a mentor friend, an older writer is maybe like 30 years older than me, a guy named Paul rank. And at one point he gave me typed out for me and handed me the prayer to the invocation of the Muse from Homer's Odyssey, which is like the first 12 lines of the Odyssey. And it's Homer saying, praying to the Goddess and saying, you know, help me tell this story. So I sort of imbibed that idea from him at that time, but I didn't really kind of believe it, you know, it seemed like it was a nice kind of airy fairy thing. But by the time you know, another 20 years had passed. I really, I was ready to believe it. And when and from Bagger Vance on I believe it completely I absolutely believe that life exists on two levels, at least to this lower level is the material plane where we are where our assets in a form of put your ass where your heart wants to be. And the upper level is a dimension above us. You could call it heaven, you could call it if you were in the Native American tradition, you would call it where the ancestors are, you know, if you were with the ancient Greeks, it would be where the goddesses and gods live on Mount Olympus, but I believe there's another level higher when I say Put your ass where your heart wants to be. I mean, put your ass your lower level self up here where your heart wants to be, live in that level, trust that level, open the channel between those things. And so I, if someone would ask me, I've said this before, what my, what my occupation is, I wouldn't say I'm a writer, I would say I'm a servant of the Muse. And what I mean by that is, I absolutely believe in this higher level. And I think that all ideas, songs, movies, books, new businesses, entrepreneurial ventures, all those ideas come from that higher level, it's like, the classic thing that we we live in our in our regular life has, maybe we're driving along the freeway and something pops into our head, right? Or in the shower, or we're sort of half asleep, we're in some sort of a twilight state, where our ego is not in a way. And all of a sudden, something comes into us an idea for a book, an idea for a song, a poem, whatever. And I really live my life sort of trying to tune in to that cosmic radio station. And when I get, you know, the music starts flowing. It's my job to get it down on paper. That's what that's how I see it. Yeah. So I love I love that answer. And it's my story. And I'm sticking
Yeah, and, you know, it reminds me of a sort of way I like to think about this, when in when I'm in my creative space, it's almost as if you know, there's this universal consciousness that I would describe like a river, right, and we're essentially in a canoe, this river being pulled in a certain direction. And a lot of people if you're not aware of this and look, looking for the signs, you'll tend to want to maybe go upstream or try to go sideways, or run into a rock and get yourself in trouble because you're not following this flow. But I think true genius really is just laying back in the canoe, using your hands as rudders draping the water and allowing the canoe to pull you where you're a co creator. So you're essentially in flow with this universal sort of directive. And it seems like, what you're telling us to pay attention to is that there's a degree of faith and trust, that this is a real process, and that you have learned to trust it. And when you started, and I don't want to put words in your mouth, but it sounds like once you started truly trusting this process from this other domain that you were able to tap into and started putting your attention on what it wants to, you know, essentially bring out through you, all of a sudden, things started to change, which is kind of interesting, if that's actually true, because it's like, on the one hand, your culture level self is like, let me figure out what people want. Let me create it, let me be good at what people want. And then your next level self sort of goes, Okay, I'm just gonna do what I feel. And in a roundabout way, you end up getting the cultural success that you saw doing the other thing. And so it's this very weird thing where it's like, when I follow my heart, you know, and I do things that way, I end up getting the cultural success. But when I tried to just get the culture of success and don't follow my heart, I seem to keep running into roadblocks. And I wonder if that's how you see it.
That's exactly how I see it. And it's sort of totally counterintuitive. Totally something that you wouldn't, you wouldn't believe that. That's the way it works. But at least in my experience, that is the way it works. When I come up with an idea that I think, Oh, this is a surefire slam dunk, fastball right over the middle commercial idea. I'm always wrong. It gets out there and it just bombs. But when I come up with something that kind of is coming from my some other place, then that's the one that work. And the other thing I would say, Jade, is that. The idea is that as they come, always surprised me. It's, you know, from one book to the next. I never know what's coming, I can't sort of plan things out in five year increments or anything like that. It's like this other wisdom, knows what it wants. And it's my job to just kind of, you know, go along with that. And I actually have a I go with along with that river metaphor that you use, but I see it a little different. I see it like an underground river that's flowing inside us. And our job is, is to trust it. Number one, you know, to believe that it's in there. Oh, I know what I wanted to say. I want to recommend a book to everybody that's watching this. It's called the creative act. And it's by Rick Rubin. Are you bi n if you guys haven't heard of him, he's was sort of the godfather of hip hop. He's like the producer. You may have seen him he said a couple of shows on TV a couple of reality shows about his studio Shangri La studios in Southern California, and he wrote this book, like what his his role is, he'll bring a band, a hip hop band, or a group or whatever you call it into his studios. And he'll be sort of the facilitator, he'll, he's barefoot all the time. He's got a beard. He's like a hippie guy from, you know, the counterculture days. And he'll just sort of be this, almost like, the goddess, the muse for them, he'll kind of give them these crazy assignments, like write me a song in five minutes, and don't change a word of it, and try to shake them up. Anyway, the book is called a creative act. And it's brand new, I think you have to actually preorder it by Rick Rubin, I highly recommend
I'm on it, I'm definitely I'm definitely going to get that book. Because for me, I'm fascinated by this creative process. And many people who listen to this podcast, as you and I were talking before we came on live, you know, many people here are trying to change their lives. And there's something that I want to ask you about that kind of fascinated about me about the way you come at this. Because when most people think about, I'm going to change my life, and I want to do something different. They tend to, in my mind, subscribe to more of what we might call the secret, right? This idea that if I think a particular way, and I start thinking positive thoughts, or I get my thought process in alignment with this other thing that I want to do, then I'm going to have what I want. What's interesting about your process, it seems to me where it's like, you know what, it's not about thinking necessarily, it's about I am just going to want you to put yourself in the place where that person is, if you want to be a hip hop artist, you go to the studio, if you want to be a writer, you sit down in front of your your computer and you began to write if you want to be a dancer, you go out and you get in the studio, I've heard you sort of talk about this, which is a little bit different. But it makes some sense in terms of if you're actually doing the thing, you must then be thinking and feeling the thing, it's much easier to think and feel in alignment with doing than it is to be just thinking if you're not doing and so I wonder if this is how and why you say this, because it's a very different self development practice than I think most people talk about. You're just like, sit down, do what you're supposed to do. And and it almost seems like you believe the thoughts and feelings will come out of that versus like, sit there and think about it and hope that you start to do it. Is this how you see it? And is this the process you've used? Because it is a little bit different than the traditional self development gurus talk about?
Yeah, I mean, that's exactly right, Jade, I couldn't agree more with what you said. I mean, I don't want to knock anything, because I know that book, The Secret and the law of attraction. And supposedly it works for people. I don't believe in it at all. I mean, maybe it works for somebody else, I don't believe in it at all, I don't think the universe works that way. And I think action, putting your ass where your heart wants to be. It's like priming a pump or starting a motor, it gets something going the universe responds to action. Like even if you were moving from one career to another. Even if you just move one step along that way, you know, things will start to happen. Right? I don't think you need to actually make that giant leap and all one you can. But I think if you like if you're gonna do a podcast, you don't have to leave immediately to like Rich Roll, where you have a great, beautiful studio that and even he didn't do that. Right? What interesting one and let me do one podcast with my friend Harry that I think is an interesting guy, you know, and then let me do another one. And what happens is, once you do one, this higher level of the universe, whether you call it the gods, the Muses, the energy, whatever it is, there, they see it. The Universe sees it and responds to it, you know, and if, let's say the podcast analogy, you start with your friend Harry, you do one podcast, and then somebody comes up to you, the guy from the gym or a girl from the gym and says, you know, my buddy Jack is really fascinating guy. Why don't you have him on the podcast? So I'll introduce you right now. Right? And that's the universe responding. And the next thing you know, you've done maybe a dozen of them and you're starting to get somewhere and then you think Well, shit, maybe I ought to have a studio. I better actually get a microphone. Maybe I'll get a decent camera and little by little, the action comes first. And then then the universe starts to help you out.
Steven, I love this. And I'm wondering if you can help us through your experience because Okay, so let's say I make this leap right and I'll start to take The action. And then it sounds like what you're saying. And I've had this experience as well. And I want to see how it shows up for you. Sounds like what you're saying is that certain serendipity is will begin to occur, certain things will begin to happen that we may just take as coincidences. But it sounds like what you're saying, if I'm reading you correctly is that this is not coincidences. This is the universe the Muse seeing you take action and going, okay, Jade serious, Steven is serious. And I am now going to give them more of the creative potential that they've asked for and see what they do with it, see if I see if they really are serious, so I'll give them another guest and see if they jump on it. I'll give them another opportunity. See if they jump on it, see how serious they are. And then it begins to build and I'm curious if this is how you see it? What were some of the most amazing serendipities or coincidences that you were just like, This can't just be by accident? Do you remember a few that you were just like, How is this even possible? Because It must seem like magic at times?
Well, I certainly believe that completely. And but let me just take like a the most commonplace thing, we'll even forget the airy fairy part of it or thing? Yeah, let's say that you're, you're a contractor, you're building houses, right? You are the boss, and a kid comes to work for you. And you hire him kind of on on an impulse. He has no credentials or whatever. And as you wash over week one, week two, week three, week four, you find that the kid is showing up there half hour before everybody else. He's sweeping up, he's doing the good, good work, when the day is over. He's working an extra half hour before he leaves. He doesn't he doesn't complain about money. He's always trying to learn something, you the boss, meaning you the universe, you're going to be inspired to take that kid aside and say, You know what, let me give you a little more responsibility. How would you like to drive the truck that goes and get the lumber every morning, right? And I'm gonna give you a raise. And you'll do that, right? So that in a way is the universe responding. But if we look at it, from our own point of view, if we're the boss, it's almost like we can't help ourselves. We see somebody and his ass is where his heart wants to be. This is a kid that's that wants to do it right. And so we can't help but kind of guide them along. And I think that's, that's not really airy fairy, but it's reality kind of a way the the way the universe works. So again, what made that kid what prompted us to help that kid was his actions he showed us, you know, and I believe that the gods looked down and they see that same thing. You know, you've done a podcast and another one and another one and another one. Okay, I'm gonna give him another guest. And, and I believe that's how the universe works.
And let's get back to the show. Now the one thing that I want to do before I get specifically about some of the questions I have about your book is what, and you give a lot of this stuff in your work. But you know, you talk about this concept of resistance. You know, it's one of my favorite concepts when I first read about it in The War of Art. What, with this concept of resistance, if we're being inspired? And if we're taking action? What is this thing? Well, how have you how do you see this? Why does resistance begin to try to pull us away and make us procrastinate and distract us and deceive us? And, you know, kind of move us away from what we want to do? What is that about? Is it like a testing ground? Is it something about our own self doubt? What is that that's going on? From your perspective? And how can we be aware of it and begin to fight against?
Well, this is from this book of mine, The War of Art, which talks about resistance with a capital R and I'll sort of give you a long version here Jade, like if we believe in the in the higher level above us. And we're here on the material level in between. There's another level and that level is the negative level that's trying to stop the good stuff from coming down to us and stop us from going up to the good stuff. Why it's there. That's a whole other issue. But I can if you want me to give you my real answer,
I would love to hear what your thoughts are.
I mean, I think that, okay, there's a long version of it. But I think we can define our, where the center of our identity is, is in one of two places. In my mind, it's either in the ego, or it's in the self, the capital L capital S self, the union sense, the greater the greater being like I would say the ego is this little tiny dot, that's in our that's our, our reasoning self, the self that we call AI. It's the AI that identifies with the material world, with our physical body, with our success with our family, with our career. Well that's that's the that's the ego of it, which is a very narrow, selfish place. And it comes its predominant emotion is fear, fear that we're going to fail fear that we're going to lose what we have fear that we're never going to succeed. But there's a greater self, that in the Carl Gilnean sense, which would include dreams, visions, intuition, the deep unconscious, the deep subconscious, the collective unconscious, all of the wisdom of the human race. That has been and I would say that's this higher level. So what we're when we on the lower level resistance I believe this negative force of that's trying to like you articulated it before where you were saying in my long years that the voice must have been saying to me, You're crazy to keep believing in this, you know, give it up. Got it. That's the voice of resistance. And I think what happens is when we try to move from our identity from the ego, the little selfish, self interested ego, to the self, the higher plane, the ego doesn't want that to happen. Because if we identify with that big thing, it's out of a job. So it will create this barrier in between to try to keep us in the ego, to keep us in this small, small way of thinking. That's why it takes so much guts to go to believe to trust in a higher level, because our ego is wants to stay in control. And it's going to work against us all the time. So I don't know, maybe that's a little too complicated.
Well, no, I mean, I love that because the sense it makes complete sense, to me, at least in my psychology background, that's the base level human, the ego is dominating there, if you have fear, then fear is going to elicit in you the need for power and control. So the ego is going to try to fight for its survival. And it does that by trying to keep you small and away from this sort of greater wisdom, because I think you put it really interestingly, because if you merge with this greater thing, you realize that it's your part of it, you're much bigger than just this AI. And you can do so much more if you trust it. But that's a very scary thing, right? Because most people will say that's, you know, airy fairy, we that's too much. Whoo, that's this and that. But once you begin to believe in it, the ego essentially must necessarily be pushed aside a bit. And now all of a sudden, you can begin to get this, you know, sort of download from the muse, and I'm wondering if, you know, I wonder for you, the ego seems like it's always going to be there. But it seems like somewhere around 5550 years old, when you first were like, Okay, I am going to make this transition to is the listening to my heart. That that is when you began to start finally conquering resistance.
I think that's exactly true. And in fact, I'm gonna recommend another book for you and our listeners. It's by a guy named Richard Rohr, our Oh, a HR who is a Franciscan monk, or Benedictine monk, but a real down to earth guy. And the book is called for upward. And what he does is just use that Jade, he kind of divides the loaf into two halves, the first half and the second half, and around 50. Somewhere, that's kind of the, the, the dividing line somewhere around there. And he says that the first half of life is about the ego. It's about can I learn a career? Can I find a spouse? Can I have a family? Can I create an identity where I say, okay, you know, I'm a investment banker, or whatever it is, right? It's about sort of what he would call a creating the vessel. And then when you get to that point, when you sort of done that, you move to the second level, and it's sort of like, well, what am I put in this vessel? As I've already done it? Am I going to keep doing this again, and again, and again, just in other words, that's the sort of eat half of life. And when you get to that second half of life, according to Richard Rohr, which I believe in, you really graduate to the self in a sense, and you start to have a much, instead of thinking only about your own little self, you start to think about other people, your family, the greater the greater community, what can I do for other people? What can I do to teach? What can I do to give, and then your universe kind of expands? And also, if you're thinking about a new business that you're going to do, you will naturally start to think more about, what can I do that what that people need? What is it that's out there that I can bring, that nobody else can bring? Instead of saying, you know, how can I make some money? Or can I come up with some concept, you know, where I can go viral? And you know, overnight, I'll make a million bucks. So anyway, the book is called Falling upward by Richard Rohr. And I highly recommend.
Yeah, I love I love that idea. And it does make me think of this idea. I certainly went through some tough times, I'm just getting ready to turn 50 Now, but in my 40s, I feel like I began this process where I essentially moved away from this idea of jade being Hey, look at me, Jade Teta. I've got all these gifts, pay attention to me, you know, sort of my child, adolescent self. And through my own personal failings and having to take a look a deep look at myself, I went to this place where I'm like, I have two jobs, I got to take care of myself and simultaneously take care of other because I'm not separate from them. And if I hurt someone else, you know, I sort of hurt myself. And that had a profound impact. I would call it not a midlife crisis, but a midlife awakening. And it did have a really big impact on my creative process because my creative process used to be like I'm going to, you know, invent this new way of training or this new way of treating a particular disease and I'm gonna write about it and I want people to tell me I'm good and how Have accolades and all this stuff. But then I got to this place where I think, perhaps similar to you where I was like, You know what I know that I'm unique. I know I have a unique voice and unique experiences. And I am going to simply do my job, as my purpose show up, do my job. And legacy in the sense of it used to be legacy was like, Look at me, but now it's more like legacy in the sense of, I know that I can make a difference in my actions. And no one will ever really know my name, and it doesn't matter. It matters is that my ripples are help lift people up, rather than our waves that crash over them and sink them down. And I came to this point where I was like, I think your pain, the primary way that you kind of see yourself is some people will take their pain and pass it on. And I think when you really grow up and get past ego, what you do is you take your pain, you learn from the lessons, and it becomes a path to purpose for you, where you began to help others. And I really feel like this is what you've done with a lot of your work, because I'll tell you something that you know, you probably hear this a lot. But one of the things about your work in the nonfiction world, because that's mostly where I've read your work is that there was something about your story that I said, Steven gets it, he's been through it, because you were vulnerable and telling your story and very free in telling sort of the pain and the path of pain that you dealt with, and also how to turn it around. And that gave gives a ton of credibility, because I saw a part of myself and your story, which is really interesting, right? Because we are connected that way, you know, like you are a part of me, I am a part of you. And so when I see your process reflected in myself, and then see you go J trust the muse, Jade, you know, like, make sure that you pay close attention to what's in your heart, make sure you look out for resistance, it helps me to get to the next level. And it has been a really, really powerful thing for my own journey to then see that I can do that as well. And so then I have someone like you that I learned from, right and I think then I got, then I can begin to teach out of that out of my learnings. And then I get to love which I would say create, you know, so to me, I think there's three reasons we're on the planet to learn, to teach and to love. And that love piece is I think the final piece where we create something not out of our ego, but we create something out of this beautiful place above that sort of shines sort of threw us out of the Muse. And that's where books like you know, put your ass where your heart wants to be in the War of Art and these things come from. And I'll say one more thing. I know I'm talking a lot here, but I think what's beautiful about them. And what's beautiful about you Steven is that this by trusting this muse, you have put things out into the world that those ripples have deeply impacted people like me that you've never even met before. Not just me, but millions of us. And in a sense, right? Like the ego would say oh, I want to do that but you didn't get there by listening to the ego you got there simply by tapping into the creative Universal Consciousness translating it for us and bringing something that we could all relate to and learn from.
Let me ask you something Jade when you were just talking about in your 40s that you started to have a you felt like you were on a different path here. Was there a particular moment for you or a crisis or anything where you felt like he turned some kind of a corner?
Yeah, no question about it. I was having an affair at the time. Being completely you know dis this honest and disloyal to my wife. What was really interesting is the woman I was having an affair with she was also married. This is a really most people listen to this podcast know the story. But it was a beautiful, the most beautiful moment in time for me. Because I was caught in this betrayal sandwich, I was having an affair with this other woman who was having an affair and I caught her having a third affair. I was the one that caught us I was in this betrayal sandwich and and the reason it woke me up was because I saw immediately the pain that I was under that I was causing. And then I was trapped. I could see it simultaneously because I was in this betrayal sandwich, and it woke me up out of what are you doing on this planet? It made me ask this question, why are you here? And what do you want to be? You know, how do you want to show up? And it very clearly helped me see that my actions were all coming from a place of fear of lack of worthiness. This this idea of ego keeping me down wanting attention want and accolades kind of broke me down to my base level. And then I was just like, listen, I just want my life to be about serving other human beings I want to create for others and make a difference for others and everything began to change for me at that point and I think It's not in terms of accolades, just in terms of my sense of pride and fulfillment. And so whether I get anyone paying attention to my work or not now, Steven, and I wonder if you feel the same way, I feel like I'm in alignment with the universal consciousness that I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing.
Now, did you at that moment, Jade, did you have a moment where you sort of said to yourself, Okay, this is my, what my new life is going to be, like, almost like a moment where you write a list or you say, Okay, I'm going to do this, I'm going to do this. And I'm not going to do this. Did you do anything like that? Or what did it take some other form?
You know, what it was like? It was this immediate realization that I had always been being prepared for the work that I was getting ready to do. In other words, I had always been fascinated with psychology and philosophy and health and healing. But I had focused on fitness and health and healing, and for a long time, put the psychology and philosophy stuff away. And I realized that all of a sudden, in an instant with this thing that happened. And when I say in an instant, it really happened over the period of about 18 months of this very difficult period of time. But what I realized is that, oh, this is really interesting, the world seems to very much want me to pick back up the mantle of self development, psychology, philosophy, my counseling background, it wants me to go in this direction. And I have a very deep experiential, sort of feeling of how to do this now. And and it came out of that work, which is why, like you and I talked about now the next level human concept, is a concept that that's the self development work that I do not a lot of people know that work from me, they mostly see me as a health and fitness guy. But it really came out of this idea of my pain, pointing me back to my unique nature that was always there and always pushing me in this direction. And it was just a matter of me listening to I guess what you would call the muse. I just started listening and reluctantly at first, because I was like, I don't know that I want to go in this direction. It's uncomfortable, but I couldn't help it.
Did you have any kind of a therapist or anybody that was in a mentor role to you there and you did it all by yourself? Yeah.
Well, you know, I'll tell you, the Stoic philosophers, you know, Marcus Aurelius, Seneca, you know, Taoism I read, you know, so my mentors were you and authors and people from the past, they were people who I was reading in books and seeing that they had gone through the same things. And that's why I think a creative potential is so powerful, because when we create, I think, from where you're talking about this world, you know, up here, the universe and the Muse when we create from that place, it touches a lot, a lot of people in the process. So that was something that I also have deep experience with. And I'll tell you, I'll share one other thing that's really interesting about this is that I excitingly when you and I hooked up on social media excitingly told my parents, because they know I'm a huge fan of yours, and I've read all your works, and tell everyone to read your stuff. And one of the things that I'll share with you and the listeners, and many people know me, probably know this, that I've always said, I want a career, if I was going to be a writer, I'd want a career like yours, because to me, you're like the Bo Jackson of the writing where you basically are like, and for those of you who don't know, the reference of Bo Jackson, yeah, he played football and baseball at a very high level. So to me, a person who can write nonfiction and fiction and have, you know, people just love their work, whether nonfiction or fiction, I was like, I want that what that world I want to be writing in the health and fitness world in the self development world, as Steven Pressfield writes in the fiction and nonfiction world, and so it's really an interesting fun thing for me to be able to talk to you about your work and your influence, because it's a it's somebody who you are always been someone who I have considered a mentor, and a sort of because of the way that you have done that. So when you ask, were their mentors, kid you not, you know, we're one you know, and I don't think people should realize that, you know, mentors don't always come in the form of, you know, sort of personal friends like now we get to sit and talk one on one but your book spoke to me and raised me up, you know,
For me throw another one for our listeners here. On the subject of mentors. For me, what am I greatest mentors has been dreams. I'm a big believer in dreams, that and that we have, you know, right inside us. And that deep self, the unconscious, whatever it is a source of wisdom that is always trying to guide us, you know, and I'm a big believer in recording your dreams and trying to analyze them. And there have definitely points in my life, have really, you know, steered me the right way or when I was in, in terrible doubt, a dream has said to me, you know, hold steady, you're on the right track. back, you know, it wasn't another human being it wasn't a book or anything like that. But it was it was even better because it was coming out of me. So I highly recommend and listen to your dreams.
Yeah, it's almost like that's your direct access? It sounds like you would say, yeah, that's your direct access into sort of this realm that can speak to you. Did you ever I'm wondering, did any of your books ever come to you and dreams, your ideas? Because I know you said they just hit you out of the blue at times they were they were they dream oriented? Or did they come to you, you know, like, sometimes ideas come to you in the shower, or when you're driving, when you're sort of more in your subconscious brain. I'm wondering if any of your books came to you in those situations,
nothing's ever come to me in a dream. But other things have just come to me where I knew they were a book. Like I wrote a book about Alexander the Great, called the virtues of war. And the way this thing came to me was I got the first two sentences. They just, and the first two sentences were, I have always been a soldier, I have no other life. And when I that sort of came to me, I thought, that's the first two sentences of a book that I didn't know for months, I was asking myself, who's saying this? Who is Whose voice is that? And I kind of tried on all different is it so and so is it so and so's and so and so, and, and finally, after like three or four months, I realized, ah, this is a book about Alexander the Great, why I said that I have no idea, you know, but that so that's, that's the one case of something that just absolutely popped into me like a lyric in a song. And, and was absolutely on target.
I love that. And you know, we're coming up on time. And I want to be, I want to be respectful of your time. But I do want to talk about this, this latest work. And here's a here's sort of one of the ways I want to just briefly get into this. So I've heard people say, because, you know, many of my friends, we all were like, oh, Steven s got a new book coming out. So you know, we, we pass it around, and we've all read it. And so a few people are just like, how come some people out on the internet are saying, Oh, this is like all his other work just in a new book. Right? And for me, I don't see it that way at all. And I want to see how you answer that potential thing that some people are saying, because I've heard people say, if you've read Steven Pressfield, you've actually read this book before. I actually don't see that at all. But I want to let I have my answer for that. But I want to see what you have to say about that. In terms of what makes this a different Steven Pressfield book, what makes it from your perspective, something that had to be put out? That is different from every other thing that you've done?
Well, it's That's right, that it is like everything else that I've done, it's definitely in the same vein, but I don't see anything wrong with that. I think it's like going to the gym, you know, you can be told the same thing again and again, and it works, you know, you need that. But I do think that this way of looking at it, the concept of put your ass where your heart wants to be, is a different way of saying things that I've said before. One, it would be beat resistance, one would be turned pro, that was my second book of this term that and the third one in there do the work is another book that I've written, it's saying exact same thing. Put your ass where your heart wants to be equals do the work equals turn pro, etc, etc. But it's a, but it's a way it's a different way of looking at it. You know, putting your fist putting your commitment into a place. And then the good things that come out of that. But the people who say that they're right. I mean, I talk about the muse, I talk about resistance, I talk about all the things I always talk about. But hopefully from a little different angle.
Yeah. And let me tell you, I I've answered this as well, because I've come What's your answer? Well, yeah, I basically said yes, I mean, of course, like his work is imbued in here and you can see aspects of all his work. But if you take all your nonfiction work and put it together in a very concise form with deep wisdom, like it takes you, you cut in, you put three sentences together in this particular book that literally cover like, you know, hundreds of words in your past books. It's almost like it's so succinct, so powerful, that it's sort of like when I'm reading this book, it's like, first of all, I'm reading a book from start to finish, but I'm also sort of reading like one of these books that's like a daily, you know, sort of meditation where I literally can open it up to this short little passage and get such tremendous sort of value. So the way I saw it was like this is the evolution of a simplified sort of version of All these books taking the most powerful points of wisdom out of them. And it's one of the things I said, as I said, you know, it's funny, you know, I've recommended your books to a ton of people. But if I had to recommend just one now, it would be this particular book, if someone was said, what's the Steven Pressfield book that I should read, I would say put your ask where your heart wants to be is the one that covers all his work in the most succinct way. And gets all his wisdom down in these powerful pertinent points that you just can't get in another book. And it's a quick read to I mean, it's one of these things that I think speaks to where we are in the current sort of culture as well.
Yeah, books are getting quicker and quicker. I remember when, when, when the War of Art came out, it was like 20 years ago. And I thought, well, this is really a short book. I mean, look how short it is, you know, now you're looking at it looks like war and peace. You know, nobody would ever sit through 160 something pages. But yeah, but I do think as, as you sort of, are developing a philosophy and I know, you know, just exactly what this is Jade, you get to say it in fewer and fewer words, because you know it more, you know, it's you're honing it down more the message anyway.
So my final question for you, Steven, is for the individuals who are, you know, sort of in this place where they want to, and they're feeling like, you know, I understand what it's like when Steven was in his 20s, in his 30s, in his 40s, you know, kind of banging his head against the wall, feeling this poll, you know, from his heart, but, you know, needing to make ends meet and all that kind of stuff, what would be sort of the final things that you would say to those who are struggling in that regard, that maybe we haven't, you know, sort of covered yet, what what would you leave them with to kind of say, hey, look, it took me to 55 and look at my career, you know, here's what you need to be thinking about.
Yeah, I would, I would say, you know, to take could be patient, it takes some pressure, the self imposed pressure off, because we all feel like, I know, when I was 30, I felt I was like, you know, one foot from the grave, I, you know, I want my god, I'm 30 years old, you know, and, and, but life is long. And we it takes time to evolve sometimes. On the other hand, when you really feel like you're really pregnant, and that baby's inside you, and you can feel it growing, don't be afraid to give birth, you know, and, you know, there is a time when you do have to jump off the cliff. But, but, and you'll know it when the time comes. But I think we're all impatient, because we want to get there, you know, we want to feel that. But sometimes it just takes a while you you're on a road, it's not quite the road, you know, but it's it's, it's, it's parallel to the road, then you get a little bit closer to the road. And then finally, you get to the actual road that you want to be on. But don't be too down on yourself when you're over here, because you'll get here and then you'll get here. Life is long, and we're all gonna get there.
Yeah, it's basically sounds like you're saying trust the work, you know, um, trust the muse, do the work, be patient. And when you feel it, you got to take the shot, and you know, be brave enough to do it. And you certainly have done that.
And this book I recommended earlier, Rick Rubin's book, the creative act, one of the things that he his word for the muse for that higher engine, he calls it source, the capital S. And he says, like, if you're a hip hop group, source is broadcasting constantly kind of like radio waves, you know, in his view, Rick Rubin's view, it's not a rare little jewel that you're looking for. It's like the trade winds that are blowing constantly, you know, and all you really all we need to do is trust it and tune into it. It's like I think everybody is getting ideas all the time. But a lot of us through resistance, dismiss them. We say, oh, that's been done before, or I could never do that. Or I'm not ready to do that. But the ideas are there, that that other dimension is constantly broadcasting. And if we can tune into that, that's real secret.
Yeah, you know, it's funny, I love that he calls it source in my in my latest book, The next level human. I also call it source of meaning really, maybe he's a reader of Spinoza.
Yeah, pick that up from Spinoza. He's ripping you off, or you're ripping him off now, not
you. Well. The reason I brought it up is because it's such a beautiful thing, right? One of the things I've seen in the creative space is that you know, these ideas of ideas that come to us some it's rare, isn't it how life all of a sudden you got four or five different people in the world. Getting the same idea. It's almost like universe wants this birth. Yeah, yeah. So it's a really beautiful thing. And thank you so much, my friend. Seriously, I appreciate your generosity. We appreciate all of us. I think I'm speaking for all of us who love your work. Thank you for what you have put out. Thank you for trusting the muse. Thank you for putting your ass in the seat and doing over the long run. And that now we have your work to benefit from.
Well, thanks for having me, Jade, it's great that we finally met each other at least via you know, podcasting. Yeah. And I'm happy to do this again anytime you want. You know, and I hope we get to meet each other in person one these days.
Yeah, I would love that. Let's real quick. Tell everybody where they can? Where are you hanging out? Now? I know. I'm seeing you on YouTube. I know. I'm seeing you on Instagram. So where can everyone find you? And I did notice that you put your book out. The latest book is in it's an eBook. It's in on Audible, and it's in paperback as well. So you guys definitely go and get this book. But where can they find more of Steven Pressfield and sort of your musings and what you're doing online and all that.
Yeah, just kind of like wherever else is. I'm on Instagram and I have a website. That's just my name. You know, Steven pressfield.com and the book is everywhere and so are all my other books. You can't get away from me.
Thank you so much, my friend. I just loved having you here
thanks a lot Jade. We'll do it again sometime.