One of my favorite forms of exercise is walking. Some 200 years ago Thomas Jefferson also recommended taking long walks was the best exercise. But unlike Jefferson, I also like to listen to podcasts while I stroll. That way, I can strengthen myself physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually at the same time. Since the volume of excellent podcasts far outstrips my time to listen, I sometimes go back and hear material recorded a year or more earlier.
That happened in early 2021, when I checked out the EntreLeadership “Best of 2019” episode. As a compilation of snippets taken throughout the year, I found most of the excerpts helpful, but one–an interview with author Steven Pressfield–hit me between the eyes. You can listen to it here, starting around time stamp 49:38. Or, you can listen to the whole interview in its entirety here.
Simply put, Pressfield claims that every person who does creative work keeps hitting a kind of mental “brick wall” designed to keep you from being productive and creative. He said at first he explained that he thought he was the only person who suffered from it. He described it as a voice in your head that keeps you from achieving your goals.
He said it disguises itself as your own rational thoughts talking to you, but in fact, it is an external force. For him, the common messages were like: “You can’t do that.” “Who do you think you are?” Where do you get off, thinking you’re going to write a book? Ha! Thousands have tried that; you don’t have what it takes,” and so on. In a nutshell, you can call it “self-sabotage.”
As he began to realize he was not the only person who suffered from this kind of opposition, he understood that all writers have this plague. However, over time, he recognized that all creative workers have this problem–be they artists, entrepreneurs, etc.
He said the Resistance is so devious, it attacks everyone, but in individualized ways, as if the Resistance knows each person’s own particular weaknesses. Pressfield continued, he believes everyone is born to do some kind of special work, but this voice is there daily, seeking to thwart us from doing it.
He commented that one never talks about it (until he did in this podcast!), and schools never teach about it or how to overcome it. He said this force is so pervasive, and so sneaky, he gave it a name: “Resistance,” with a capital R.
I do not know Pressfield’s religious views, but twice he described it with the adjective diabolical. That word comes from the Spanish word el diablo, which means devil or Satan. At one point in the interview, Pressfield even laughs nervously and calls the “Resistance” a “devil.”
I do not want to “weird you out,” but as I heard Pressfield describe the Resistance as a devious, intelligent, seemingly omnipresent force that individualizes its attacks on us but camouflages itself as our own thoughts, I wondered: is Pressfield describing the devil?!
Pressfield claims the Resistance seeks to kill and destroy our dreams, ambitions, and the crucial “work” we are to do in life. Jesus, speaking of the devil, warned: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy” (John 10:10). Sound familiar?
Pressfield claims a person can never actually rid oneself of this Resistance or its daily discouragements, so the only solution is to “be a professional, not an amateur.” He explained that a professional reports to work day in and day out, regardless of the weather or how one feels.
Likewise, no matter how disheartened the Resistance can make us feel, we should press ahead with our work and deadlines and never fall for the excuses like “I’ll take the day off” or “I think I’ll work on this tomorrow.” Amateurs may only pursue a hobby when they feel like it, but a professional gets the job done. That approach, Pressfield claims, is the only way to overcome the Resistance.
– Scott Dreyer
Want to read high school students’ essays about this interview and the Resistance? Check out our newest blog post: https://dreyercoaching.com/component/k2/item/252-resistance