The War of Art
The most powerful quote I’ve read this year: “The more important a call or action is to our soul’s evolution, the more Resistance we will feel toward pursuing it.”
I’m in the middle of learning to code, improving my fitness, learning martial arts, and starting a business. Not super successful at any of them, mind you. All things that I face massive internal Resistance in doing. All things that I believe future Me will love me for.
Why is it so hard? Why can I watch hours of CrossFit on YouTube and attend 0 classes in the last 5 years? Why do I know every major UFC fighter but don’t have a MMA gym to call home? Most of all, why do I think of myself as an entrepreneur if I’ve never built or released a product?
Resistance is the answer. Religion, shmeligion – but there’s a unseen force that impedes us from our true north. As I read the War of Art, and got to know Pressfield’s concept of Resistance, I met my own.
My Resistance is cunning, as cunning as I am. It comes as a lack of enthusiasm and overexcited planning (Hello 4MF!). It makes me think about my thinning hair every time I want to record a YouTube video. It diverts me into researching the top 10 boxing gloves of 2020 instead of learning basic techniques.
My Resistance tells me that I can’t hack it as an entrepreneur. That I’ll burn my savings if I try. That my parents basement is the only safe place on earth for me to start companies from.
Resistance makes sense. I do have bills to pay. I am less good looking than the YouTube guys I admire. I can’t afford a home gym right now. My Resistance makes some very good points!
My Resistance is so impressive, I hardly believe it. But I created it. Does that make me an evil genius? Hahaha. Perhaps :). As Feynman said “The first principle is that you must not fool yourself — and you are the easiest person to fool.”
If I can conjure this Resistance accidentally, then I can do better by applying effort to build its opposite. The man who always follows the path of creation. The Professional.
Pressfield is a true pro. It took him 10 years to write a novel. Another 10 years to sell one. But he shows up. He caught a break on a movie he wrote in his 40’s. Finally, Hollywood! The movie sucked and it tanked. He had his dream right at his fingertips and it slipped away. He still kept showing up.
Pros live at the intersection of passion and pragmatism. My passions are combat sport, productivity, nutrition, fitness, human optimization, supplements, and wearable technology. My professionalism at times has been world class. I did get a job at Goldman Sachs. My feedback from a senior VP was “This kid would run through walls.” My feedback for myself re: passion projects…. N/A I haven’t even made it into the building.
Merging these two spheres is the domain of creators. How do they cultivate inspiration and act? Simple, they “… write only when inspiration strikes. Fortunately it strikes every morning at nine o’clock sharp.” This writer knows the enemy. The enemy will make distraction convenient. The Professional shows up regardless.
Knowing is a lot of the battle for me. I faced Resistance when I started writing this post. But I’m comfortable in the blogging territory. This is my ~50th post. I can shake it off. I’m newer in all those other arenas. But now I know when I feel Resistance, I’m going in the right direction. I can see past the veiled messages
- “You’re hungry, get a snack”
- “You need water”
- “You can’t work effectively without an external monitor”
- “You’ll be more productive if you take a nap first”
Screw you Resistance.
Resistance is fear. As I confront my Resistance, I’m scared. It’s my stage for spectacular failure: to go after my passion, put everything I have into it, and fall short. Even worse, I might succeed. I might hit escape velocity and achieve fortune, prestige, and fame. I might make all my haters jealous and my friends and parents proud. Why is this terrifying? What comes after?
More. More Resistance. The fight wages on.
But today, I won.