Resistance. What can stop you from doing what you know you can and want do? This was the key theme in Michael Hyatt’s presentation on preparing to launch. It was the second session Michael presented and the third of the Platform Conference. The concept of ‘The Resistance’ comes from Stephen Pressfield’s book, ‘The War of Art‘, and earlier in Seth Godin’s book, ‘Linchpin.’ It is not a question of ‘if’. The resistance will show up in your life. Michael’s presentation outlined the key attributes of resistance and gave us strategies for dealing with it. My recap follows below.
The resistors in the photo above serve a function in electronics. Resistors in your life prevent or slow you down from doing what you really need to be doing serve no function other than to confirm that the resisted thing really is what you should be doing.
Michael’s first book suffered 29 rejections before perseverance, and pushing through the resistance, got him his first book deal. He almost quit many times but ultimately was successful in his goal. The book made it to the New York Times list and stayed there over seven months. To me, this reaffirmed Michael’s quote that “so many people quit right before they are about to succeed.”
So what exactly is the resistance? It is an invisible destructive force that opposes you trying to make an improvement in any area of your life. Some examples given included:
- Organising your closet when you should be writing,
- Focus on a negative comment over all the positive ones in your feed, and
- Spending ages tweaking your blog style rather than writing content.
For me, right now I should have been writing this but I was listening as I wrote to an @GSPN podcast I ended up spending 10 minutes cleaning my Twitter stream with Twit Cleaner. Useful? Yes. But not what I should have been doing just now. It was my resistance at work just now. Perhaps your resistance is reading this blog post.
How can we understand the key attributes of resistance in order to identify it and then ultimately do something about it? We were given three attributes by Michael. They are:
- INTERNAL – The enemy (resistance) is within us. There is no one else that we can look to for where it came from. It is in me. The cool thing is that because it is not a peripheral opponent (i.e. it is within me) it is something that I can control. The internal resistance is coming from a story we have come to believe in our mind and we can rewrite that story. A key learning in this area? Be careful of labels. Once you give something a name it becomes controlling in your mind and thus another source of resistance. If you sell yourself the story that you are not a morning person you will never be a morning person. If you say you can’t find time to exercise in your super busy day guess what? You won’t! But change your story and you can change your life.
- INSIDIOUS – The resistance opposes everything and keeps you from being all you can be. It can and will derail you if you give it the chance. As Steven Pressfield said in ‘The War of Art’, “Resistance will tell you anything to keep you from doing your work. It will perjure, fabricate, falsify; seduce, bully, cajole. Resistance is protean. It will assume any form, if that’s what it takes to deceive you. It will reason with you like a lawyer or jam a nine-millimeter in your face like a stickup man.Resistance has no conscience. It will pledge anything to get a deal, then double-cross you as soon as your back is turned. If you take Resistance at its word, you deserve everything you get.” You have to acknowledge this and constantly work to root it out of you.
- INFALLIBLE – A cool thing about this resistance thing is that it actually acts like a compass to guide you to the things that you really ought to be doing. It will show you the problem. The areas of your life where you find yourself with the most resistance are the areas of your life that you should probably focus on. With the resistance showing you the way you can now do something about it.
What then are the stages of resistance and what are the strategies for dealing with the them?
- FEAR – This normally happens at the beginning of a project – big or small. A typical response to resistance is procrastination. We convince ourselves, tell a story in our minds, that the issue is going to be better served if we deal with it later. PJ O’Rourke noted, “usually writers will do anything to avoid writing”. The solution is so obvious that it almost slaps you in the face (and sometimes this is not the worst of ideas). START. Take charge. Take what you know and run with it. The best time to plant that oak tree was 100 years ago. The second best time is NOW. Do it. Do the work.
- UNCERTAINTY – This will normally show itself as you reach the middle of your project. Everyone goes through uncertainty and self doubt. How does this apply to the resistance? We ‘just take a moment’ to pop over to Twitter or Facebook for a break from our work. This distraction, this procrastination gives us immediate gratification. And it never lasts just a moment does it? The solution is to find your FOCUS. Unplug. Turn off the wi-fi on your computer. Go where no one knows you (old school libraries are better than Starbucks or the best coffee shop I ever sat in, The Frothy Monkey). However you do it find a way to keep the outside out for a bit so you can focus. One recommendation for Mac users is Anti Social. It turns off all social media. Similar services exist for PC users. Use them.
- DOUBT – This last stage shows up at the end. Will anyone come? Is the writing good enough? Who really needs this? It manifests itself in constant polishing of the work. Tweaks to add a bit more content or style to the effort you have already done. The solution? FINISH. Be done already! Sometimes you just have to ship it and see. In the blogging space you will get fairly quick feedback and, guess what, errors are correctable. I have not clicked ‘publish’ once and not immediately seen spelling mistakes or remnants of a sentence I changed. But they get fixed quickly and, hey, they show my readers that I am normal, just like them. I make mistakes (I never will figure out active vs. passive voice though). But I shipped my product.
Aside from these insights on the resistance factors that will confound our attempts at launching our product what else can we learn as we get ready for that leap? You need to know that you are unique. The blog, the product, the thing you are about to launch is not about the product. It’s about you. It’s about character. In the constant yin and yang of the resistance this is where we get the greatest benefit from its otherwise paralysing effect. It develops character. Resistance prepares us to take ourselves to the next level if we are open to it, understand it, and do something about it.
What are you doing about your resistance? Will you let it take you to the next level? I’m trying in this outpost on the web to face my resistance areas (procrastination, lack of focus) and do something about them.
Next up in this recap series, Jeff Goins (…psst…he is a writer). Jeff has overcome the resistance he faced in calling himself a writer and spoke well on how you can also as you work to build your platform. Recap #5 is here.
Share in a comment if you wish some areas that you have faced resistance in your life, particularly in a project you were working on? Did you overcome it? How? The community here would surely benefit from your learnings.