On April 10, 2011, I purchased a Kindle book offered through Seth Godin’s The Domino Project, sponsored by Amazon. Every entrepreneur should own this book.
The book was Do the Work: Overcome Resistance and Get Out of Your Own Way by Steven Pressfield, author of The War of Art.
There was one quote from the book that impressed me.
On the field of the Self stand a knight and a dragon.
You are the knight. Resistance is the dragon.
The quote has stayed with me over the years. In the book, Pressfield gives a list of what can generate Resistance, which every entrepreneur probably will recognize:
“Resistance’s Greatest Hits – The following is a list, in no particular order, of those activities that most commonly elicit Resistance:
- The pursuit of any calling in writing, painting, music, film, dance, or any creative art, however marginal or unconventional.
- The launching of any entrepreneurial venture or enterprise, for profit or otherwise.
- Any diet or health regimen.
- Any program of spiritual advancement.
- Any activity whose aim is the acquisition of chiseled abdominals.
- Any course or program designed to overcome an unwholesome habit or addiction.
- Education of every kind.
- Any act of political, moral, or ethical courage, including the decision to change for the better some unworthy pattern of thought or conduct in ourselves.
- The undertaking of any enterprise or endeavor whose aim is to help others.
- Any act that entails commitment of the heart—the decision to get married, to have a child, to weather a rocky patch in a relationship.
- The taking of any principled stand in the face of adversity
In other words, any act that rejects immediate gratification in favor of long-term growth, health, or integrity.
Or, expressed another way, any act that derives from our higher nature instead of our lower. Any of these acts will elicit Resistance.”
He also capitalizes on the noun. The way he describes it, “Resistance cannot be seen, heard, touched, or smelled. But it can be felt. We experience it as an energy field radiating from a work-in-potential.”
And finally, he adds a rule of thumb: The more important a call or action is to our soul’s evolution, the more Resistance we will feel toward pursuing it.
Why the Film “Whiplash” Is the Entrepreneur’s Perfect Example of Resistance
A few weeks ago, I finally watched a film that I had wanted to see for a long time, Whiplash, starring Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons.
The film is about Andrew Neiman (Teller)—a young, talented drummer who attends a prestigious university conservatory. He yearns to have his talent validated by the tough, demanding jazz conductor, Terrence Fletcher (Simmons).
The film is not easy to watch. Andrew goes through the equivalent of “Hell Week” with this conductor as Fletcher plays mind games with him, abuses him, and pushes him to the limit and beyond.
During the film, I was reminded of Steven Pressfield’s book.
Because like a committed entrepreneur, Andrew didn’t quit.
Even when he was pushed to the brink, he didn’t quit.
Why Andrew Didn’t Quit
You see, Fletcher was his “dragon.”
Fletcher was the Resistance.
The greater the resistance, the greater our efforts are required to break through the resistance.
And this often creates greatness.
This greatness is relative to a certain perspective.
What I mean is that if you’ve been struggling with something in your past that has held you back for years—but now, because you had a breakthrough you are freed from it—that is greatness.
Greatness isn’t just measured by other people’s opinions of you.
It can be measured by your own self-assessment of the progress you’ve made regarding personal growth and development.
Many times, we’re our worst critic. And too often, we don’t give credit to ourselves nearly enough for the progress we’ve already made.
We may continue to be looking for confirmation from the world that we’ve “made it.” But meanwhile, we’ve already made it in other ways. As an entrepreneur, it’s through our refusal to quit, our insistence on persevering, and our desire to go above and beyond what we think we can do.
In the film, Andrew is like many of us. He is constantly seeking validation from his mentor. You can almost hear his questions:
Am I good enough?
Do I have what it takes to be considered one of the greats?
Am I special?
We all struggle with wanting to be seen as special and unique. But here’s the BIG NEWSFLASH:
You already are.
The Difference Between Validation and Preparation
If you’re an entrepreneur, you don’t need a mentor to validate you. You’re astoundingly remarkable just as you are.
Now if you need the training to do whatever it is you want to do, great. Get training. Learn. Expand your knowledge.
That’s preparation to do what you feel called to do. It makes sense that if you want to be a graphic designer, you’d need to learn design principles. You’d also need to learn digital design programs and become proficient with its tools and features.
A brain surgeon doesn’t just walk into the operating room and say, “Hey. Someone hand me that sharpy thing… “ Of course not. First, she needs to spend years learning about the human body, the brain, and everything else that goes with becoming a brain surgeon.
After getting that training, it’s just up to you to practice… and practice… and practice.
And it’s up to you to fight Resistance.
Because at the end of the day, Resistance isn’t coming for your mentor, or your friends, or your family, or your acquaintances, or your social media followers.
It’s coming for you.
So be ready. Knuckle up for battle. Kick ass. And know that on the other side is a sweet victory… and some major growth.