I’ve been reading The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. The book encourages anybody doing anything worth doing to show up everyday and do the work.
What is the thing that prevents us from showing up every day and doing the work? That thing is called Resistance (procrastination is one of its many, many forms).
The most obvious audience is artists, writers, entrepeneurs, with an emphasis on writers. Pressfield himself is a writer (Legend of Bagger Vance is among his works).
I, on the other hand, sell insurance for a living. Nothing to be ashamed of, but insurance sales is seldom confused with art. Although I’m not a traditional artist, I most definitely experience Resistance.
As I read the book I kept looking for application to my current career. The author lists a few activities that ‘commonly elicit Resistance’, none of which seem to directly apply (paraphrased):
- Pursuit of any calling in writing, painting, etc (art stuff).
- An entrepreneurial enterprise
- Any health/diet program
- Any program of spiritual advancement.
- ‘Any activity whose aim is tighter abdominals’ (classic)
- Any program to overcome addiction of any kind
- Any act of political or moral or ethical courage
- The undertaking of any enterprise to help folks
- ‘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’
He writes, “In other words, any act that rejects immediate gratification in favor of long-term growth, health, or integrity.”
The fact is, any endeavor that’s worth anything can be done in a way that elicits Resistance. If, for example, my desire is to assist nonprofit clients in protecting their human and physical resources through insurance, then that is a worthy endeavor. Resistance comes into play (call reluctance, anyone?).
If my endeavor is to be the best Dad I can be and struggle with how to discipline and erect healthy boundaries in my kids’ lives, then Resistance will come into play. This time, it will be in this form: “Hey, Brett… just give them that additional snack and let them watch whatever, whenever, and buy them whatever they want because the noise that can flow from their mouths must be avoided at all costs!”
In exchange for the immediate gratification Resistance offers, I get self-centered and selfish kids.
What do you do every day that is worth something? Your job to support your family? Writing? Painting? Whether your any good or not? If it gives you and others life, isn’t it worth something?
The book has caused me to think about things like this:
1. What are the important roles in my life?
2. How can I approach these roles in ways that are artful, heart-giving, and impacting in the long-term?
3. What are ways that Resistance attempts to thwart these efforts?
4. How can I show up everyday and work and get better?
To me, that’s all I can do. Show up–everyday–and get better. I can’t worry about my blow up the day before or my succumbing to procrastination the day before that. I can show up today, ask for God’s help, lace up my boots, and get to work.
*I’ve been slow on the blog–Resistance? I’ve also been slow in taking down the wallpaper at home–definitely Resistance.
*Disclosure: Links to Amazon are affiliate links. I stand to gain a few cents if you buy something.