- Resistance: The psychological enemy that stops us in our tracks and prevents us from launching that project we’ve planned to launch for months.
- How do you defeat this enemy? Just start. Sage advice from Transformers’ star, Shia LaBeouf.
- Certain projects breed stronger and stronger strains of resistance. Self-awareness is key.
It lives inside of us, all of us. It’s a monster. “The entrepreneur’s enemy — it’s an invisible, repelling force that can overwhelm its opponent with fear, self-doubt, procrastination, addiction, distraction, timidity, ego and narcissism. It has no conscience. Its aim is to shove us away, distract us, prevent us from doing our work. It will fabricate, seduce, bully, cajole and deceive us.”
What is this mighty enemy?
In his book “Do the Work,” Steven Pressfield describes this enemy as resistance.
“We are constantly making excuses as to why we can’t get started, why we can’t do the work, [excuses] that keep us from fulfilling our dream — in a word: Resistance,” he says.
Defined as “any act that rejects immediate gratification in favor of long-term growth, health or integrity,” resistance stops us from doing what we know we must do. When does it most apply? “[When you’re] launching any entrepreneurial venture,” Pressfield says.
Hence, the destruction resistance has on the real estate agent who, due to desperation — needs “now money,” “now results,” — and is trapped in this cycle of addiction.
It’s no different than a junkie shoving a needle in his arm; agents know the dangers and death sentence of being hooked on the drug of “instant gratification,” but as Pressfield states, “Resistance will reason with you like a lawyer, jam a 9 mm in your face like the stick-up man.”
Anything to convince you not to do the hardest work, to cloud your long-term versus short-term thinking — that could get you off, once and for all, the need for immediate results.
The battle within
Resistance forces an internal conflict. You know what you need to do, why you need to do it and that you need to do it now — but fail to act.
Did you launch that podcast you were thinking about? Did you start that mastermind group you dreamed up? Did you write that book? Did you create the compelling newsletter you told your friends about?
I’m guessing the answer is no. We all know you were going to do the work, but you didn’t. Why? Resistance won. It stopped you from executing. Again.
Fighting the mental dragons
So, how do you fight it — those mental dragons, the excuses you tell yourself? Here are three strategies to finally defeat the resistance holding you back.
1. Just do it
“If you’re tired of starting over, stop giving up.” These words of wisdom, of all people, came from Shia LaBeouf. In an epic video rant that garnered over 15 million views, the Transformers star spouted nuggets of advice any sage would admire.
“Some people dream success while you are going to wake up and work hard at it. Nothing is impossible! You should get to the point where anyone else would quit, and you’re not going to stop there. Now! What are you waiting for? Do it! Just do it! Yes, you can! Just do it!”
This is exactly what Pressfield is talking about. To defeat resistance — that internal self-doubt that keeps us from starting — just take that first step.
Don’t sabotage yourself. Don’t put it off. Don’t go on a research binge. Don’t read 97 books. Read three books to become “skilled enough,” then execute and reflect. Then execute. Then reflect. Wash, rinse, repeat. Momentum, in a phrase, builds the moment you begin. So just start.
2. Become a work in progress
Pressfield says, “A work in progress generates its own energy field. You, the artist or entrepreneur are pouring love into the work. You are suffusing it with passion and intention and hope. This is serious juju. The universe responds to this, it has no choice. Your work in progress produces its own gravitational field created by your will and your attention. This field attracts like spirited entities into its orbit.”
This means that your focus and energy will eventually yield results as long as you continue to push forward. A great example is Colonel Sanders, founder of KFC.
In 1929, he started selling his secret-recipe chicken to travelers out of his little gas station. Over the next 30 years, he built and lost businesses several times, and went broke — all while he continued to pursue his dreams of perfecting fried chicken for the masses.
Just over 30 years later in 1964, at 74 years old, he sold his business for $2 million.
Legendary architect, Frank Lloyd Wright, created his revered masterpiece Fallingwater at 67 years of age. His finest work, but it didn’t come until late in his career, decades after he first started.
And Ray Kroc was a lowly milkshake salesman before he took over McDonald’s at 54 years old. After decades of innovation and persistence, he grew nine restaurants into a worldwide franchise. He once quipped, “I was an overnight success, but 30 years is a long, long night.”
3. Profit from failure
In the book “How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big,” author Scott Adams says “Failure always brings something valuable with it. I don’t let it leave until I extract that value.”
The truth is, failure most often precedes success. It’s just a fact: Not you — not anyone — starts as a professional.
Failure. Lumps. Bruises. Years of grinding. They all typically precede success and mastery.
In other words, we’re going to make mistakes and fail from time to time, but extracting, learning, absorbing all you can from those failures puts you a step ahead of the guy who hasn’t yet made those same mistakes.
And it’s true. If you apply these 3 strategies, you’ll be armed more effectively to fight procrastination, to slay the dragon of resistance.
But, the reality is that they may not be enough. Fighting resistance, overcoming that inner voice, just so you can go out to make another cold-call, knock on another door, do another pop-by — long term, is probably not the answer.
Forcing yourself to do the things you hate, or that fail to resonate with the core of your character, will always breed stronger and stronger strains of resistance.
The only true solution is to execute on your true calling. What is your ‘why?’ What is that ‘thing’ that drives you? If you’re not excited about the strategies you deploy each day to foster business growth, then unfortunately, resistance will never dissipate.
As my dad once told me, “Son, it’s hard enough to do the work you love. So don’t sabotage yourself by trying to force yourself to do the work you hate.”