Why Oprah Had Trouble Writing Her Harvard Commencement Speech (VIDEO)

10/04/2013 08:27 am ET | Updated Oct 04, 2013
  • OWN

Last year, Harvard President Drew Faust reached out to Oprah and asked her to give the May 2013 commencement address to the graduating class at Harvard. She says she procrastinated for months before she sat down to write her speech, and it was Steven Pressfield's book, The War of Art, that helped her understand why.

Pressfield says that in order to find your calling, you must put your "ass where your heart wants to be." The one thing that keeps us from doing that, he says, is resistance.

In this clip from "Super Soul Sunday," Oprah sits down with Pressfield and asks, "What is the thing that keeps us from putting our ass where our heart is?"

"That is resistance," Pressfield says.

"And why is it always so prevalent?" Oprah asks. "Especially when you want to do something that's really great, like take care of yourself, take care of your body, take care of other people. All the top 10 reasons."

"I have a rule of thumb," Pressfield says. "Which is, the more important an activity is to your soul's evolution, the more resistance you will feel to it. The more fear you will feel."

"Like your speech at Harvard," he continues. "Apparently, that meant something to you because there was a high degree of resistance."

"I've spoken since I was three years old. But it was the word Harvard," Oprah says. "It was the word Harvard and everything that connotes, and my perception of what that was."

"How did you overcome your resistance to write that speech?" Pressfield asks.

"I finally had to just do it," Oprah says. "I have been in the position where I didn't do it. Where I've waited until the last second, and I've been like, 'Ahhhh what am I going to say?' And I knew that that would just take me out, that I didn't want to be in the position that I'd been in before where I waited. "

"So it's kind of like what I was saying before," Pressfield says. "The pain of not doing it is worse than the pain of doing it."

Pressfield goes on to explain his theory of why we procrastinate. "This is the metaphysics of the whole thing," he says. "The key thing about resistance is that it comes second. And what I mean by that is, what happens first is the dream, and resistance is the shadow."

"Is that like yin and yang?" Oprah asks. "You can't have the dream without the shadow?"

"In my experience, you absolutely can't," Pressfield says. "Resistance, to me, is like a force of nature."

"That's a comforting thing to hear," Oprah says.

"You know why it's comforting? Just hearing you say that, I got a little bit of relief because I don't have to blame myself so much … Because we all understand yin and yang. Dark and light. Right and wrong..." she says.

"Exactly," Pressfield says.

"Super Soul Sunday" airs Sundays at 11 a.m. ET on OWN.

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