If you’ve ever struggled with meeting a deadline or starting a project you have encountered what Steven Pressfield in his book, The War of Art, calls Resistance with a capital R. This expresses itself most noticeably perhaps in procrastination. There are endless ways we find to distract ourselves; the chores that all of a sudden cannot wait and must be done right now, your overfull inbox, the golf game you promised your friend or the lunch date, the junk drawer that has to be organized immediately – you get the idea.
Facing that blank piece of paper or blank canvas can be daunting on a fundamental level. The same dynamic is equally true when faced with the prospect of starting that business you’ve always dreamed of or meeting a presentation deadline at work. And I think it can be especially relevant when engaging important goal posts as a student such as major test prep and finishing college application essays.
According to Steven Pressfield, the most important thing about resistance is that it has no strength of its own. It is our fear that feeds the power of it – master that and you are on your way.
There are two other concepts, among many, that I especially like in this book. The first is the idea of the importance of showing up no matter what is going on in your life – that means you set aside the time to do your work, making it a non-negotiable priority, whatever that work might be. The second idea is that by doing our work we can change our lives – every time we choose to sit down at our desk, make the phone call we don’t want to make, send the email it would be easy to put off for another day or do whatever it is you’ve been avoiding then you have altered your destiny in a very real way. This is akin to Buckminster Fuller’s famous trimtab idea. The trimtab is a small piece sitting on the rudder of a ship that, with very minute adjustments, controls the ultimate course of the entire vessel. He defined it as a slight change in initial conditions that will have a huge impact in the end. There is a link here that explains the idea in greater detail. And I highly recommend Steve Pressfield’s book which is linked here.
Image Credit: Don McCullough, flickr