Pressfield may be known for the line “do the work,” but it isn’t original to him. He simply made it popular. The term has been around for years, even centuries.
The iteration of the phrase actually can be traced to a Bible verse and is part of a prayer for Solomon. David, Solomon’s father, made the prayer prior to Solomon becoming king over Israel. David wanted his son to be strong and to do the work he was called to do, a work David had been told he couldn’t. David could have put up a fuss, but he didn’t. He moved out of the way and let his son do the work to which he had been called.
The phrase is a bit more personal than that; my mom referred to the same verse in a letter she wrote me a few years ago. She wanted me to remember to be strong. She wanted me to think about doing the work I was and am called to do then to go out and actually do it. She wrote those words to a girl who was about to enter college, but the words still resonate today: be strong and do the work.
What does that mean? I think that means a certain certainty undergirds the choices one makes. That certainty, while sometimes tenuous, remains safe and secure. It helps a person to remain strong and pushes that person forward even when obstacles come his or her way – which they always do. Choosing a certain avenue of work always has pitfalls and will involve some doubt and unease. When those things come, though, the person holds onto that certainty. It is an anchor that helps him or her to face the doubt, to stay strong (even if he or she doesn’t feel strong), and to do the work.
Image: BK (CC BY NC 2.0)