Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Why You Should Read "Do The Work" by Steven Pressfield

Ever wonder why so many of our best laid plans fall by the wayside? Do you find yourself second guessing that great idea you had? Worse yet, did you start some grand project only to have it sit idly in the corner of your creative life, mocking you for it's unfinished state? If you answered yes to any, or heaven forbid,  all of the above questions, you are not alone. There are inherent truths that everyone must come to terms with in the pursuit of their creative dreams. 
Steven Pressfield's book Do The Work outlines a simple plan for recognizing these obstacles and funneling them into action. 
The first impediment Pressfield outlines is that in everything we do there are enemies. The most significant of which he defines as "Resistance".
Resistance is Invisible:
Resistance is a repelling force. It's negative. It's aim is to shove us away, distract us and prevent us from doing our work. 
Resistance is Insidious:
Resistance will tell you anything to keep you from doing your work. It will perjure, fabricate, falsify, seduce, bully, cajole. Resistance is Protean. It will assume any form if that is what it takes to deceive you. 
Resistance is Impersonal:
Resistance is not out to get you personally. It doesn't know who you are and doesn't care...Though it feels malevolent, Resistance in fact operates with the indifference of rain...When we marshal our forces to combat Resistance we must remember this.
Resistance Never Sleeps:
Fear Doesn't go away. The warrior and the artist live by the same code of necessity, which dictates that the battle must be fought anew every day.

I was interested to realize how this insight mirrors my own spiritually held belief that "There must needs be opposition in all things". I don't mean to get preachy, but I like it when I can dovetail what someone else says into my own belief set. For me, it boiled down to the idea that the Devil is a miserable being and wants everyone one earth to be equally miserable. Not recognizing the source of the resistance we feel, which keeps us from accomplishing our ideas and dreams, can be our downfall. If we listen to the buzz of resistance, we play right into Old Scratch's hands.

Another thing I took away from this book is that you should:
 "Start Before You're Ready"
Don't Prepare. Begin.
Remember, our enemy is not a lack of preparation; it's not the difficulty of the project or the state of the marketplace or the emptiness of our bank account.
The enemy is Resistance.
The enemy is our chattering brain, which, if we give it so much as a nanosecond, will start producing alibis, transparent self-justifications, and a million reasons why we can't/shouldn't/won't do what we need to do.
Start before you are ready.
How many times do we put off doing the work because we think we need time to adequately prepare? Because we need to "save up some money first" or because we have to "work out some more details". These things, I now realize are part of the litany of excuses we tell ourselves to avoid the act of doing. I am resolving to bypass more of the excuses and jump sooner to the "doing" rather than vacillating in an eternal round of "preparing".  I can fix things on the fly if need be.
Stay Stupid: 
A Child has no trouble believing the unbelievable, nor does the genius or the madman. It's only you and I with our big brains and our tiny hearts who doubt and over think and hesitate. 
Don't think. Act.
We can always revise and revisit once we have acted. But we can accomplish nothing until we act.

Over thinking is a killer. Give yourself enough time and we can all talk ourselves out of just about anything. Take having kids for example. How many people would really jump into making a family if they really knew all the ramifications, struggles, heartaches and headaches that come along with parenthood? A lot fewer. Why do we do it? Love. The joy we have in seeing a person develop from a helpless infant into a functioning, creative, thoughtful and loving adult. It should be no different when we contemplate realizing our creative dreams. If we love what we are doing, what we want to create, all the "Resistance" in the world should not keep us from starting. And once we start, just like the boulder that rolls down the mountainside,  our momentum is very difficult to stop. Once we succeed in seeing a dream project through to the end, we will never again be subject to the demons of "Resistance".

If you have not read "Do the Work" by Steven Pressfield, I highly recommend getting a copy. Devour it and then eat it up again. It has shifted my perspective on why creating sometimes feels so hard. Well, hopefully not anymore.

Buy "Do the Work" by Steven Pressfield here


benreschke said...

The audio book is really good. It is almost more of a performance than a reading.

Amy said...

It is so easy to let excuses get in the way. I like the idea of taking action instead of just preparing! Thanks for sharing.

Denise said...

Great post!

Greg Newbold said...

I think sometimes we wait around for the right moment, or until things calm down, or when it's easier, or when we are more prepared. Well, from past experience, I can say that time rarely presents itself. I think everyone could benefit from a little less procrastinating and a little more doing! Thanks guys!

Brad Teare said...

Sounds interesting. I will definitely check this out. I could use a good boost. Thanks for sharing.