I recently had the pleasure of sitting down and talking with Pressfield to get a better understanding of his view on exactly why it's so hard to get into action sometimes. He shared with me one simple insight that has helped him become a bestselling writer and elder statesmen to a generation of creatives who turn to him when they are in a rut.
"There's this negative force out there in the world," Pressfield says, "That kicks in anytime we try to do something really important to progress a business. This voice--I call it 'resistance'--tries to talk you out of doing what has the potential to truly change your life."
Whether or not you consider yourself a creative, chances are you've come face to face with resistance. Resistance is that voice in your head that scares you when you're about to make that call to the CEO of another company about a potential joint venture. It's the seductive temptation that pulls you away from working on your most important projects. And it's the intimidating self-doubt that starts to whisper in your ear when you are on the verge of making a real breakthrough in your company. Resistance manifests itself as self-sabotage, procrastination, perfectionism, self-doubt, or even at times, as arrogance.
"Here's the thing about resistance," Pressfield shared. "It doesn't care about you. It's like the shark in Jaws or Schwarzenegger's killer character in Terminator - it's a force of nature. It can't be reasoned with. It simply must be dealt with."
When I think of all the times, I argued with myself or complained that it shouldn't be this way, I have to laugh. Resistance is a force of nature; it merely is. And if you want to launch your new initiative or scale your company, you've simply got to get past it and get into action.
So how do you do it?
Here's what Pressfield says worked for him:
"When I was working on my first novel I was just stuck. It took me eight years to get it done and all through the process resistance just kicked my $%#. But then I had an epiphany. I realized that when I gave in to resistance I was acting like an amateur. So, I made a decision that would make a profound impact on my creative life - I turned pro."
Turning pro doesn't mean resistance disappears. That is never going to happen. Turning pro means that you simply refuse to give in to resistance - ever.
What does a professional athlete do when he sprains his ankle five minutes into the biggest game of the season? He gets the ankle taped up and he gets back on the court. No excuses.
What does a professional writer do when she is struggling with a new assignment? She sits her butt down at her laptop and pounds out a draft anyway. No excuses.
What do top entrepreneurs do when they don't have a clue how to solve a specific challenge? They get into action and figure it out as they go. No excuses.
"When I flipped that switch in my mind that said I'm a professional," Pressfield continued, "I realized that while it would always be a struggle, there was no way I was going to let resistance win. That's for amateurs. I'm a professional. I simply get the job done."
Pressfield has written extensively on this topic, including his 2002 bestseller, The Art of War, which has become a cult classic with creatives around the world.
So I want to pose a question to you. Have you flipped the switch and turned pro? Or do you give in to resistance like amateurs do? Make no mistake about it, the most successful business leaders and entrepreneurs have all flipped the switch and turned pro. Isn't it about time that you do the same?