In his book, The War of Art, Steven Pressfield examines the word "resistance" and how it pertains to the creative process. He writes, "There's a secret that real writers know that wannabe writers don't, and the secret is this: It's not the writing part that's hard. What's hard is sitting down to write. What keeps us from sitting down is resistance." I further appreciate how Pressfield reframes the experience of self-doubt when he states, "Self-doubt can be an ally. This is because it serves as an indicator of aspiration. It reflects love, love of something we dream of doing, and desire, desire to do it. If you find yourself asking yourself (and your friends), "Am I really a writer? Am I really an artist?" chances are you are. The counterfeit innovator is wildly self-confident. The real one is scared to death."
Facing one's fear and moving past the resistance is integral in the act of creating something from nothing. But what are we afraid of? Why do we resist? Addressing those questions honestly begins to demystify the struggle and repositions resistance as part of a noble journey rather than a negative mode of behavior. And to authentically answer, we have to look at the dual sides of the dilemma. One side of resistance asks us, "What if I do go after my dream and succeed?" while the other side asks, "What if I fail? What if people laugh at me or think less of me?" "What if, what if, what if...?" For most all of us, I bet it's both -- fear of success as much as fear of failure. But what if we explore the idea that behind every great success often lays a string of failures? What if we shifted our attitudes and looked at failure as a step towards succeeding? Could that take the power of fear, self-doubt, and resistance down a notch and free us to move forward?
One of my favorite authors, Kahlil Gibran writes in his book The Prophet, "Your daily life is your temple and your religion. Whenever you enter it take with you your all. Take the plough and the forge and the mallet and the lute, the things you have fashioned in necessity or for delight. For in reverie you cannot rise above your achievements nor fall lower than your failures. And take with you all men: For in adoration you cannot fly higher than their hopes nor humble yourself lower than their despair."
We think the key to fulfillment is the destination but from hearing so many speak about what their lives are like after they've "arrived," it seems clear that fulfillment is right there with the journey. Maybe the key is to embrace every moment that it takes to get where we want to go and if we do get there, great, if we don't, at least we know we tried. If we look at failure as a rite of passage on the road to success, it might quench our fear of failure and allow us to learn and grow.
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