Raise your hand if this sounds familiar:
1) A new idea dawns upon you, and you are exhilarated. You cannot stop thinking about your idea. You begin thinking of the steps you need to make to make your idea happen. You are on a high.
Then sometime after, something happens. A seed of doubt plants itself in your consciousness. Suddenly you see holes in your idea which you haven’t seen before, and you begin to realize how difficult it would be to fill them. You begin to realize you might not have time for all this. You begin to think of the huge scale of work you have to do to accomplish your idea. Soon, you conclude that your idea wasn’t so “hot” after all, and chalk it up to “momentary foolishness.”
2) You have a huge project you need to do that’s absolutely vital to your dreams, your fulfillment, or your passions. It could be finally writing that book, or pursuing that startup idea, or creating that app, or pursuing that killer project idea you’ve always wanted to do in your corporate job. So you set the stage. “When I get home, I will lock myself in my room, face my laptop, and start on my project at 7:30 pm sharp.” Then you start. Oddly, despite all your motivation, you CANNOT start. You do check your email. You check your Facebook page. Then everyone else’s. Twitter. Youtube. You take a bath first. You find yourself doing everything humanly possible EXCEPT that particular thing you WANT to do. Finally, it is 12:00 midnight and you are exhausted. So you say to yourself, tomorrow! And the cycle begins anew.
3) New Year comes and you have 2-3 resolutions which you want to do. Perhaps it’s losing weight. Controlling your temper. Quitting a vice. So you begin the year right. A mere two weeks pass and you succumb to the status quo…telling yourself it isn’t so bad in the first place, and that perhaps you’ll try to change again in a couple of months.
Isn’t it funny that most of the time, we KNOW what the next, crucial step in our lives would be – that one thing which we know would make a dramatic impact in our lives. We KNOW what to do.
Isn’t knowing half the battle already? It all then boils down to just doing it right?
As soon as we try though, we find that something opposes us. Self doubt. Fear. Procrastination. Distraction. Analysis paralysis. In his two landmark books, War of Art and his follow-up, Do the Work, author Steven Pressfield calles it The Resistance. He explains:
…there is a malignant presence that exists to block you. It rises up against you to stop you from doing what you most need to do. This force is the Resistance.
And, as Pressfield puts it:
The more important a call or action is to our soul’s evolution, the more Resistance we will feel toward pursuing it.
Can you recall a time when a great opportunity or idea came your way, and you find yourself ON THE ROAD TO TOTALLY BLOWING IT?
I remember getting the idea for STORM way back in the early 2000’s, but it was only in 2005 that I actually got around to looking for partners and telling them about my idea. I KNEW it was a good idea, and I KNEW I needed partners to pull it off, but it still took me years of dilly-dallying before I put my intention into action. I would start thinking it might be embarrassing to tell my friends about it. That my idea might not be worth anything. Resistance.
Sometimes the task is so simple, like “send an email to this big potential client,” or “talk to this person about her performance” and yet I would find myself doing so many other things to put it off. Or sometimes I would tell myself to sleep earlier because I want to begin my day right by praying and going to the gym very early in the morning. Yet, I would find myself at nights reading unimportant stuff on the internet, watching TV, playing Skyrim, needlessly analyzing my fantasy basketball lineup, or even cleaning my room. And then waking up late.
Isn’t that crazy? When something is of crucial importance to you, there is really an inexplicable force which descends, sabotaging and paralyzing you. Resistance. Pressfield continues:
Resistance’s goal is not to wound or disable. Resistance aims to kill. Its target is the epicenter of our being: our genius, our soul, the unique and priceless gift we were put on earth to give and that no one else has but us. Resistance means business. When we fight it, we are in a war to the death.
For startup founders and would-be founders, this knowledge is absolutely crucial – because The Resistance has killed more startups than we can count. We read everywhere that the biggest stumbling block for startups isn’t financial, nor product related, nor strategy related. The biggest killer of startups is the failure to start. The biggest reason for this failure to start? The Resistance.
It doesn’t get any easier when you start, either. You will find the Resistance going at you full force. Complete freedom with time and effort makes the Resistance doubly dangerous for the startup founder as well. There is no supervisor, nor camera, nor company deadlines to tow you back in line.
It is your battle. And everything is at stake.
Amidst all the entrepreneurial and startup-related book I have read in recent years, Pressfield’s twin books have made such a remarkable impact on me. Just recognizing the existence of the Resistance, that there is such a thing – and it is what has been sabotaging my efforts – have made me more sensitive to the Resistance’s power in my life. As Pressfield writes, Resistance acts like a True North – when you feel it working, you already know where to go: the EXACT opposite of where it is trying to lead you.
Oh, I need to stop writing this blogpost to check on Facebook?
I continue writing this blogpost.
You’re saying I don’t need to call this client now because it might be a bad time to call her, just wait for tomorrow?
I call the client.
Just another 5 minutes of Skyrim, perhaps one more area to explore?
I close the console. (or more recently, I placed the dang thing where I can’t touch it)
Just do it.
This sort of thinking has actually led me to one of the most creative periods in my life. Ever so recently, I was wracked with doubt and fear and the Resistance about this blog, some of the startups we recently founded, or even doing Juan Great Meet. In all cases, I recognized the Resistance, harnessed my competitive nature and told myself “hindi ako magpapatalo.” (I will not be defeated)
(The interesting thing is, the more “practice” you have in resisting the Resistance, the better you get at doing it.)
Buckle up. Get ready. If you want to follow your dreams you’re going to have to fight for it.
You already know it’s worth it.