Resistance is Natural

—Andy Hunt

Published in Andy's Blog

Resistance is natural.

Resistance is the enemy. You’ve probably encountered resistance in at least popular form: we call it procrastination. But envision resistance as a much more powerful, more universal and pervasive force. Something like a meta-gravity, weighing down any of your significant endeavors.

That’s how writer Steven Pressfield views it in his book, The War of Art. Resistance as a mindless, destructive force, acting against all your better interests.

Whether it’s a creative endeavor in some art, an entrepreneurial venture or enterprise, diet or health initiative, education or project of any kind, resistance is there to be met as an opposite and equal force.

Resistance is sneaky and subtle. Procrastination is an obvious and easy manifestation, but that doesn’t make it any less potent. Some procrastination is easy to spot, especially if it involves cat memes or Reddit. But what about more subtle forms of procrastination, such as hiding behind estimates, or avoiding pair-programming, or not writing unit tests, waiting until you know before you try, or the pinnacle of group procrastination: the big meeting?

Then there’s the subtle expressions of resistance: some buried, niggling fear. Fear of failure, however small or large. Fear of being exposed as a fraud. Fear of loss. The perceived lack of support from your boss, or folks who work for you, your family, spouse, kids, and the rest of the infinitely uncaring universe. The unforeseen setbacks that send a stab of panic through your viscera.

The amateur takes these all personally, and resistance wins as you waste kilowatts of psychic energy trying to relive, rehash, revisit and reframe these events. The professional sits down, shuts up, and moves the ball forward.

I hate sports metaphors in general, but in this case it’s particularly apt. If the action you’re taking right now isn’t “moving the ball forward” (i.e., not advancing you to your goal), then resistance has won this round. It’s all about moving the ball forward, even if it’s just moving a few inches for now.

Think about that a moment. If your current activity, whatever it is, is not advancing you toward your goal, then it’s pulling you away from it. And no, it’s not letting you idle or stand still. If you’re standing still, your goal is still is motion—away from you. You’re losing ground.

King Leonidas of Sparta once said that the supreme virtue was “contempt for death.” Pressfield equates that in our modern times with “contempt for failure.” No matter what, move the ball forward. Ship the software. Write the chapter. Paint the picture, shoot the scene, post it, commit the code, whatever. Get it out there. Now.

And tomorrow the battle begins anew. New adversaries, new tactics. Resistance is clever, and will go for your soft spots. But resistance’s fatal flaw is its single-minded goal of stopping you from doing what you must. There’s one sure fire to win against resistance in all it’s forms:

Do it anyway.

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