Overcoming “The Resistance” 

In his book on creativity and innovation, Steven Pressfield talks about “the resistance”. He defines resistance as the thing(s) that stops you from taking creative action. This could manifest as procrastination, fear, anxiety, doubt, or any similar feelings. The key is, it’s always internal. 

So, how do business owners and leaders, who take some of the biggest risks and make decisions under tremendous uncertainty, overcome “the resistance”? 

Let’s look at habit research for a moment. James Clear (and others) tell us that a chosen sense of identity (I am this type of person), our environment, and our systems have a greater impact on successful habit formation than willpower. 

Consider also the ancient Stoic philosophers who tell us that it’s best for our health and sanity to not get too attached to people, things, or outcomes, and to keep our emotional highs and lows in check. Instead of getting sideswiped by those things, they encourage us to identify the things within our control (our responses and reasoned choices) and act swiftly on those. 

Finally, we can look to the wonderful author and podcaster Shane Parrish who reminds us that motivation and momentum follow action, not the other way around. He also reminds us that when we subjugate our egos to the ultimate outcomes or goals, it’s a lot easier to know what action to take and take it than when we rely on motivation. 

If we combine these three sources, we find a potential antidote to “the resistance”: identify what’s within your control, act on those things, establish an environment and systems to make acting on those things easier, and generate early wins to create motivation and momentum to sustain you. 

So much of life and success is about good positioning. Good positioning results from focusing on what we control and making good choices about those things. Overcoming resistance is no different. But if we start by waiting for inspiration, motivation, or willpower, we’re going to fail (or at least struggle to sustain). Most people struggle to break the thoughts and emotions loop (worry about something not working, which leads to anxiety and procrastination). 

Successful people break the loop. They insert action. They don’t wait for the perfect moment or the spark of motivation. They get to work, get feedback, and course correct. 

If you want to beat “the resistance”, identify the one thing you can control and act on, and get to work. The rest almost always takes care of itself. 


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