Resistance to doing YOUR Great Creative Work..

Steven Pressfield wrote a fine book about doing great work. In his context “great” is the same as “creative”. It might be writing, dreaming up a new product, starting a new venture,…

It’s the kind of work where we must put our egos on the line. Egos don’t like to be exposed. As soon as the cold draft of exposure looms our egos call for help. At this point we “hit the wall” as something distracts us. The ping of an incoming email, a knock at the door, a sudden urge to go to the bathroom…

Steven talks about “Resistance” as a real force which throws those distractions at us. It tries to defend our egos from the merest hint of exposure. “Resistance” is the being inside us that doesn’t want us to do new things. Just in case they do not work out.

“Resistance” is the frustration we feel during those first fifteen minutes of trying anything new. For instance, all of us played guitar as kids. “Resistance” is why most of us now have day jobs. So few of us stuck with it that we can actually name those that did. People like Eric Clapton, Mark Knopfler, and Rodriguez.

Last week I joked about falling asleep whenever I must to do work that I don’t want to do. But when it comes to creating something new I meet Resistance in his full force.

When I started doing live seminars I was scared. Who was I to tell a group of people new ways to survive business closure? That was “Resistance” rearing his head. After creating seven different seminars, presented to more than 30,000 people over a 10 year period, I began to realise that it was just part of my creative process. It happened each time I tried something new. It still does.

I now know when something big is about to happen; when my best work is about to manifest. It is when my bowels demand instant evacuation like a fox does when it hears the baying of dogs in the distance. It is an immense distraction, just what Resistance wants.

Your Resistance will manifest differently. But when it strikes, it’s worth searching a while to find that creative burst hiding coyly somewhere in back of mind.

The last thing I want on my deathbed is to count all of the things that I haven’t yet done as I remember how much time I spent sitting in the bathroom despatching those creative thoughts.

Read Steven’s book The War of Art. You will be glad you did.

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Doing YOUR best vs being THE best…

Last week I wrote about the concept of being the best, surpassing everything that anybody has ever done in your particular field of endeavour. And why it was not the best way to succeed in business. That article is here.

I want to differentiate trying to “be the best” from “doing your best”. Don Miguel Ruiz, in his outstanding book The Four Agreements, talks about always doing your best. But it is a very different concept.

Not your best in the sense of beating your lifetime best each day. Rather, doing your best from the moment you are in.

Roger Bannister was the first person to break the four-minute barrier for running a mile. This took years of training. And for a short while he was the fastest runner in the world over that distance. It wasn’t long before he could not equal that feat. Time takes it’s toll and he moved on to slower things.

If Mr Bannister had flu on what turned out to be his fastest day, or had a blister on his left big toe, or if his girlfriend had told him the night before that she was of child by another man, his best on the day would have been a lot slower.

“Life” flows around us. James Watson (one of the two fellows who first concluded that DNA was shaped the way it is) in a recent video talking about his life back then said that he did not remember much of it because he was having issues with his girlfriend at the time.

“Our best” depends on all sorts of things and changes by the hour. How much sleep we had last night. How well our relationships are going. When last we ate. How fit we are. The traffic en route to the office…

We are called to do the best we can in the space that we are in now. For instance, in my case, I suffer from . That is a self diagnosis. Whenever there is work to be done that I don’t want to do I fall asleep.

I find that the best I can do at that specific point is little more than to get onto the elliptical trainer for five minutes to get my heart pounding. It sometimes works to get me back to my desk.

Once I’m at my desk things kind of happen.

You don’t have to be the best in the world in your genre. You just need to be a little better than your local rivals on the day for this particular prospect. If it were not so, most of us would be unmarried and lonely. I am grateful each day that my rivals were not very strong on the day that I met the prospective future Mrs Carruthers.