What stands between you and your greatness? You.
You Are The Problem
Yep, that’s the sobering yet empowering news. The bad news is it makes you responsible. The good news is it gives you access and power to do something about it. I recently read (disclosure: listened to the audio book while driving down the south island of New Zealand) a powerful book called The War of Art. The author, Steven Pressfield, has written many fiction books like The Legend of Bagger Vance and has a succinct, humorous, direct and engaging tone throughout. He eloquently challenges you to look at what actually gets in your way of achieving what you really want.
In my work with clients we look at removing barriers between them and their greatness. What I keep seeing is that one of the biggest, most consistent, and most persistent barriers is one’s own resistance. This can take many forms (avoidance, excuses and justification, procrastination) but you can sum it all up into one word - resistance. Since reading this book I’ve caught myself in many moments building a New Jersey Curb of resistance in front of me. For some reason organizing papers on my desk, deleting junk email or taking the trash out all become incredibly enticing when I need to sit down and do something important like write a proposal for a client, draft a blog post, or even meditate (I do this daily - more on that in another blog post). These are all forms of resistance. In the past I’ve come up with elegant, complex explanations for all of this but now I just blow the whistle and name it what it is, resistance.
Resistance is a form of self-sabotage. It is a commitment to keep one's self small, weak and unsatisfied. When I look at my mentors, friends and others I admire they certainly had/have resistance too but found a way to move past it towards their greatness. I think that is why I admire authors so much; despite their resistance they keep cranking out pages day after day, week after week, month after month. It is that kind of consistency that creates greatness and mastery. I have no doubt that they wake up some days and have all sorts of good reasons to not write but they do it anyway. That’s what separates the girls from the women and the boys from the men. Overcoming resistance. Successful professionals still experience the same self-doubt, fear, overwhelm, distraction, and other negative feelings as the rest of us, but the difference is that they bunker down and get in action towards what they were put on this earth to do in spite of those feelings.
I Have Resistance Too!
If you know what you are meant to do with your life and you find yourself not taking action towards that self-expression, goal, dream, turn on your resistance detector and see if it goes off (beep sound). I can tell you that mine goes off all of the time. I struggle with it daily. A number of tricks help me overcome the resistance. A key one is making a promise to someone so I am accountable (I'll tell a friend that I am seeing for dinner that night to ask me if I finished XYZ). Another one is to minimize all of the windows on my computer and put my phone on silent so I have no distractions and then put on my favorite music and grunt out whatever task is at hand. There are plenty more that perhaps I'll blog about some other time. When I defeat the resistance I get present to my commitment and stand in that instead of my excuses. I'm focused on what I really want, less concerned with my interest, ability or desire for the task at hand, and just get it done. Where does resistance stop you in your business or career?
Get In Action
Enjoy the last paragraph (and some goosebumps) in the War of Art.
"Are you a born writer? Were you put on earth to be a painter, a scientist, a apostle of peace? In the end the question can only be answered by action. Do it or don’t do it. It may help to think of it this way. If you are meant to cure cancer or write a symphony or crack cold fusion, and you don’t do it, you not only hurt yourself, even destroy yourself. You hurt your children, you hurt me, you hurt the planet. You shame the angels who watch over you, and you spite the all mighty who created you and only you with your unique gifts for the sole purpose of nudging the human race one millimeter farther along its path back to God. Creative work is not a selfish act or a bid or attention on the part of the actor. Its a gift to the world and every being in it. Don’t cheat us of your contribution. Give us what you’ve got!"
Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/people/28650594@N03 via Creative Commons.