“I can’t write today, I’m not feeling inspired.”
“There’s no way I can launch this new thing without the logo being finished.”
“One day, I’ll be ready to create that thing I’ve been dreaming about. One day.”
The albatross around the neck of every creative entrepreneur. The bane of every artist. The greatest foe of anyone bringing something new into the world.
Whatever you make – a book, a business, a design or dance-show – the process is the same. It is the mysterious, chaotic process of birthing something new. It is the practice of creativity.
When you create, you meet the inevitable counter-force: resistance. Resistance is the evil twin of creativity. It is inseparable, unescapable.
If you create stuff, you will feel resistance.
The Naivety of the Common Artist
“Man, I don’t think I’m capable of creating this thing yet. I need to go do some more x, y, z. Then, maybe I’ll be ready to start work on it.”
I need more healing.
I need to be more recognized first.
I haven’t learned enough about this topic to create something about it yet.
I’m not experienced enough to create this thing.
I’m not ready.
I’m not capable.
I’m not worthy.
And so goes the never-ending naivety of the common artist.
It is not the fact that the artist feels resistance that makes him naive. No, the naivety lies in the belief that resistance can be overcome.
The mistake that I have continually made, my clients have continually made, and my friends have continually made is this: to attempt to resolve resistance, before proceeding to the creation of whatever it is we are called to create.
The mistake is thinking resistance is personal. The mistake is thinking resistance says anything about the state or worthiness of your own being. The mistake is thinking that the cause of the resistance must be integrated, healed or resolved.
Resistance cannot be resolved. Ever.
Resistance is Part of the Physics of Creativity
I like watching Formula One motor racing. It’s the pinnacle of motor sport where some of the finest engineers in the world seek to push the edge of technology, and build cars that go ever faster.
When a car drives at high speed, the thing that compromises that velocity is the air around it. The faster you go, the more the car has to punch through the air.
In other words, the counter force to a car’s acceleration is air-resistance.
This is simple physics.
When racing-car drivers hit air-resistance they don’t slow down, wondering what went wrong.
They don’t reason that it must be a mechanical problem that the engineers must repair before continuing. They don’t see it as a problem with their own technique that must be rectified back in the simulator.
But this is exactly what most creative entrepreneurs do.
Trying to resolve your doubts, and insecurities before creating your work, is like trying to drive a car without experiencing air resistance. It’s like trying to change the nature of physics.
It’s naive at best.
It is the physics of creativity.
I Disregarded All My Own Wisdom
Launch fast. Minimum viable product. Beta version. Lean approach. Try it out. Don’t be perfect.
I knew all the theory. I knew the practice. I’d taught it to our students in the conscious business academy. I’d read the books. Watched the videos. Extolled its wisdom.
It’s sound wisdom. The faster you launch, the faster you can get real feedback from your real community. Don’t get too deep before you test your assumptions in the marketplace. Don’t think you’re smarter than the tribe you’re here to serve. Perfectionism will crush your entrepreneurial creativity.
The sooner you get out there, the sooner you start doing the real work. It’s not real until it’s launched. It’s not art until it’s released.
I knew it all. And I disregarded it.
“It’s not ready. I’m not clear enough. The copy isn’t right yet. The design needs to be more polished. The podcast doesn’t work without its intro music.”
When I launched this website in October last year, it was a single page.
200 words. A single picture. A small logo. A place for folks to put an email address in. There wasn’t even anything for offered for signing up, just a vague promise of impending wisdom.
It had taken me 8 months.
For that is how resistance works. The more you care about your creation, the more you will be tested. The deeper the place it comes from, the further resistance will leap to meet you.
Resistance is a Dishonourable Foe
He knows your weak spots, and he’s not afraid to go for them. He’ll play dirty. Honour isn’t part of his make-up. He’s here to shut down your creativity, and he’ll use whatever strategy he can find to do so.
He’s clever, very clever. He knows exactly what guise to assume. He has perfect timing. And he has no scruples.
Resistance had me by the balls as I was creating The Realized Entrepreneur.
“This isn’t good Ewan. It’s too vague. It’s too pompous. It’s not practical enough. It doesn’t have enough depth. It’s an ugly design. You’re being too perfectionistic”
If I’d have been wiser to his game, I would have noticed that his advice had no consistency. He just said whatever it was that would plant the seed of doubt, and then he’d water it relentlessly.
“Yes, you don’t feel ready do you? That’s because you don’t understand your target customer yet, you can’t launch until you do. You haven’t nailed your core message yet, make sure that’s clear before you go public.”
It sounded like good advice. It sounded like the advice that a very experienced marketer would give himself. So I listened. Thinking it was my own higher guidance.
He even spoke to me during meditation.
“Maybe you should re-write the front page copy? Yes? You knew there was something that didn’t feel right with that copy didn’t you? It’s all written in the 2nd person. That doesn’t fit with your principle of personal transparency. Better re-write it. Your integrity is important.”
My god he was clever.
What is Resistance?
Resistance is not really a he or a she. And he’s definitely not you, nor even a real part of you. He’s not a real voice of wisdom, and he’s not to be trusted.
He’s just air-resistance with a microphone.
He’s just the desperate status-quo hijacking your inner dialogue.
There’s no inner-guidance to hear. There’s no grain of truth to be uncovered. There’s no valid perspective to integrate. He’s just out to keep you stuck exactly where you are.
Don’t listen to him. And for god’s sake don’t try to reason with him. Learn to see him. His power is based on non-detection. He’s like a spy behind enemy lines. You beat him as soon as his cover is blown.
If he can’t move stealthily in and out of your sub-conscious mind, he will lose his control over you. Learn to spot him.
6 Disguises that Resistance Wears
- You haven’t done enough work on yourself. You need more healing. You need to meditate more. You need to resolve a childhood trauma, because it’s really stopping the real you from coming forth. If you transform that part of you, then it will be real, and authentic.
- Waiting for creativity to flow. Not flowing today? Wait till tomorrow. Not flowing tomorrow? Wait till after your weekend break. You tell yourself you mustn’t force it. You don’t want to distort the purity of creativity. You must wait for true inspiration.
- You’re afraid people won’t like what you make. I want to create. But it’s scary. It’s exposing. It’s dangerous. What if they don’t like it? What if it’s not good? What if it’s not valuable? You tell yourself these are rational possibilities. You tell yourself that you must resolve your fear first.
- I’m not in a rush, I still have plenty of time. I don’t want to force it, rush it. I know it’s tough, and I’m probably experiencing some of this ‘resistance’ thing, but I have time left. It will come at its own pace. I don’t want to be all disciplinarian with myself. I have years left.
- You keep shifting focus. You’re working on one thing, then something happens, and you decide to work on something else. You’re writing an ebook, but before you finish, you switch to brainstorming about a new idea. You tell yourself you’re just ‘following the natural flow’.
- Resistance doesn’t apply to me. Nice theory. Nice idea. I don’t really think it applies to me though. I don’t have resistance like you’re describing it. I have genuine reasons I’m not creating my thing. It’s not resistance, it’s something else.
Resistance is anything that stops you from creating the work you’re called to create. He is a ruthless foe.
Go Forth and Create
Creativity does not belong to me or you. The things we create do not belong to us. They are the possessions of God. The great spirit of evolution.
Our gift is to create. To get out of the way. To make the unmakable. To speak the unspeakable.
It is not our right to determine worthiness. That is the purview of history.
Make it. Share it.
And if the thing you make is not good? If it stinks?
Let it hang. Like a fart in an elevator. Feel the shame. Smell the toxicity. Feel like an ass. Suck it up.
Then go create more stuff.
That’s how you beat resistance.
Note: If resistance is the dragon that we all must face as creative entrepreneurs, then the original St. George is a man called Steven Pressfield. If you’re an artist – someone who makes stuff – and you’ve never read his work. Correct it. Now.