“Most of us have two lives. The life we live and the unlived life within us.” These words appear early in Stephen Pressfield’s classic book, The War of Art. Unless you consider yourself an artist or creative person of sorts, you’ve probably not read this book – as a leader, you should.
I believe there is tragic truth in Pressfield’s idea that most people have two lives. Think about all the things you want to do, or hope to do, or wish you had done. Most people live with an unlived, unrealized vision of their life – hopes, dreams and plans that never come to fruition. Why?
[tweet_box design=”default”]Most of us have two lives. The life we live and the unlived life within us.- Stephen Pressfield[/tweet_box]
Pressfield suggests the problem is Resistance – he goes a step further, he says Resistance is evil.
If you need help visualizing this beast, you can think of it as the Cerberus from Greek mythology. The Cerberus guarded the place between the living and the dead. In our lives, Resistance is on guard to prevent us from living the life we were meant to live.
In this post and the next one, I’ll share some ways resistance thwarts the artist and the leader. Then, in the third post in this series, I’ll offer some ways to combat Resistance in the real world.
Today, see if any of these characteristics rings true in your experience…
Resistance looks for excuses – How many times have you made excuses… in the last 24 hours? ”I don’t have time to run today – or ever.” That’s one of my personal favorites. Excuses may be resistance’s weapon of choice. If we are not careful, excuse-making can become our go to response. When this happens, resistance has won, and stolen our life and our leadership.
Resistance blames others – How often do we pin our inaction or lack of progress on others? This is easy to do, but the effects can be devastating. Blaming others is not what great leaders do. Left unchecked, this behavior can materialize into a serious character flaw. Leaders accept responsibility.
Resistance spawns procrastination – Do you have big plans for next week, next month and next year? Great, if you do something today to advance your cause, project or idea. To wait plays right into resistance’s plan. “I’ll do it tomorrow,” may be the chief strategy of resistance. Tomorrow is always a day away.
Resistance embraces rationalization – Rationalization is a sophisticated form of an excuse. It just makes us feel better. The truth is we can always rationalize our capitulation to resistance. “I can explain…” is the language of resistance. When you hear yourself saying it, or sense yourself thinking it, stop.
Resistance traffics in fear – “I might fail.” Fear is one of resistance’s most potent tactics and the most irrational. Of course, you will fail. That’s part of the success journey. When resistance puts an unhealthy fear in our mind, it effectively blocks our success. Failure is not the only way we can experience fear. Sometimes we will fear success as well. If this is your nemesis, you may need to reexamine your calling.
Check back in a couple of days for the second installment on Resistance. Between now and then, pay attention to the conversations you are having with yourself. You may be talking to Resistance. Don’t let it win![GLS_Shield]