Three weeks into a new year the pathways to yonder goals are littered with stranded wayfarers who have fallen off the new years resolution wagon.
Many turn back to their places of comfort. Others will stumble along the path for some time still. Some may even try to run and catch back up.
For most, the odds of reaching their destinations are a lot slimmer than their desired bodies and budgets. And so the annual tradition of a new years resolution is packed away with the decorations and we go about our lives longing for them to be different. Better. Slimmer. Healthier. Wealthier. More something.
But it’s just so difficult!
I recently read a book called “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield. It’s a compelling perspective on things that inhibit our moving forward in the work that needs to be done. Pressfield eloquently speaks of internal barriers that are much greater than obvious external ones. You might think of them as volitional inhibitors. A confinement of our will. We know what needs to be done but we are neither inspired to do it nor motivated to begin, persevere or finish.
He calls this resistance.
Writing from the perspective of a creative – in this case a writer – Pressfield sums it well in this brief opening.
“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.”
And it’s not a creative problem. It’s a personal and professional one.
Effective leaders in any field learn to master resistance. Or at least have a success rate against its tactics that is far above average. After all, even the best of quarterbacks throw interceptions from time to time.
What those leaders would tell us if we asked is that there are particular mindsets and strategies they regularly call on to defeat resistance in the day-to-day. Here is a quick look at a three of those mindsets.
I’m OK with Discomfort and Delayed Gratification
In it’s basic form this means merely showing up, putting your shoulder to the plow, and staying with the work of getting things done. One little secret of leadership is that most days, there is no applause. The intrinsic motivation must be there or else we would all go home ready to throw in the towel. The discomfort of work and the delays in the rewards are constant companions in the lives of effective leaders. They embrace them, recognize their value to the mission, and appreciate the role they play in producing things of great value.
People are Humans Too
Leaders understand the nuances of personality and the competing agendas of the human heart. Accordingly they become agile in relating to people in their worst moments as well as their best. They carry a long view of work and are least likely to be dramatized by day to day outbreaks of humanness. They simply don’t get bogged down in people stuff, but learn the craft of responding with boundaries that are professional and not whimsical.
Tech is My Best Friend
Speaking of nuance, here is twist on tech that leaders ‘get’. They see the root of both technology and technique, and inherently seek to master both. Leaders who effectively battle resistance devote their lives to the training, coaching and monitoring that allow them to master the tools and skills at their disposal. The tech in both words is from the Latinized form of Greek ‘techno’ which relates to “art, skill, craft in work’.
From laptops to lean processes, spreadsheets to public speaking, effective leaders never stop learning the art, skills and crafts of their profession. This could be as simple as using your iPhone to dictate email or learning the best ways to close a deal. Technique matters. Technology matters. All can help push through resistance when we learn to use them well.
On our best days these kinds of elements can rally together to produce great things. But on most days one or more of them decide not to cooperate. We miss our numbers, people act like humans, and Siri gets snarky.
There is going to be resistance.
We all find ourselves there. Everyday. It is something that is as old as time and nobody – no-single-body – is immune.
Now that we are past that impetuous new years resolution stage, perhaps we can step back on the path to our future realizing that the resolution wagon eventually breaks down anyway. After all, it was just a wagon. Not the destination.
The best resolution may well be to simply show back up tomorrow. Adjust our mindset ever so slightly. And step out once again.
Resistance hates that. Which means it must be the right thing to do!
Let’s hear about your stepping out amid resistance! Who knows who you may encourage.