On Resistance

Depending on how long you’ve been following the story, you may or may not know that The WW Club started life as a pop-up co-work and event space in Downtown Los Angeles. In January 2015, I launched the Club (and the original, self-published Handbook which inspired it) in the basement of the iconic Eastern Columbia Building, using the last of the money in my savings account and approximately 10,000 favours called in from friends (You know who you are. Thank you.) 

Going through some old notes recently, I remembered that I had only really started work on the project in November 2014 – two months before opening it in January of the following year. That means that the entire thing came together in the space of two months  (and given that said period of time includes Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year, it was basically tantamount to one working month, all in.)

It was, as you might imagine, a fairly intense period of my working life. Somewhat embarrassingly, I still keep my to-do list from January of that year as a reminder of how much I can get done when I put my mind to it. It was also a period in which I first read Do The Work by Steven Pressfield - a follow-up to its bestselling predecessor The War of Art, which reiterates the same essential premise: That anyone who has ever tried to make something is plagued by a devilish force called ‘Resistance’, and that this force is why you can conjure up endless reasons not to take action on that thing you can't stop thinking about, be it starting a business or a meditation practice. 

Pressfield’s persistent analogy of art as warfare is not one that always resonates with me (very alpha; very counterintuitive to my experience of the creative process itself) but I took away a key lesson from his book that has stayed with me ever since: That the more Resistance you encounter, the more likely it is that you really need to do the thing you’re resisting. Or, as Pressfield puts it: “Rule of thumb: The more important a call or action is to our soul's evolution, the more Resistance we will feel toward pursuing it.”  Understanding, at that key moment, that my fear was not an indicator that I was doing something wrong, but rather evidence that I was doing the exact right thing, was a crucial insight that enabled me to bring The WW Club to life.

Recently, Resistance has reared its ugly head once again. Over the past few months I’ve been trying to develop two intimidating ideas and I’ve found myself feeling stuck, slow, and inept. But - having been here before -I also know that this ongoing cycle of procrastination, anxiety, and inaction is a clear sign that these are two ideas are actually way more important than any others. If they weren’t, I would’ve stopped agonising long ago and tossed them into the ‘Discarded Ideas’ pile, along with all the rest.

The only way forward at this stage - according to Pressfield at least - is to ‘go pro’. Going pro is not about being recognised, celebrated, or even paid for your work: It’s about making a commitment to yourself to get the work done all the same. It might be impossible to predict the eventual outcome of that one idea which wakes us up at night but we can know, with complete certainty, what will happen if we don’t act upon it: The idea will never come to life.

If you’re locked in a similar battle with Resistance right now, it might be helpful to imagine dropping your big idea completely, right here, and right now – never to be thought of again. If that doesn’t work for you, imagine watching someone else bring it to life. If either visualisation makes you feel slightly nauseous, then there is only one response to all the endless questions of how, and where, and why.

It’s time to do the work.