If you’ve been reading this blog regularly, you probably know that Unstuck Leadership isn’t a specific form of action, or a title or even a state of being. It’s a practice. Just as we might have a meditation practice or a professional practice, or perhaps a spiritual practice, the practice of Unstuck Leadership puts us in a constant state of learning and improvement.
Our practice won’t make us perfect. We’ll get things wrong from time to time. God knows I’ve gotten it wrong many times. But with each mistake or glitch or imperfection, we learn and commit to doing better next time. And that commitment requires us to say yes. Yes to growth. Yes to change. Yes to responsibility. Yes to our true selves, and yes to what is emerging within us and around us.
Committed practice is hard. Most of us get in our own way. We let negative thoughts seep into our souls, distracting us, sapping our energy and robbing us of our authentic power. In his book, The War of Art, writer Steven Pressfield calls this phenomenon “The Resistance”. Resistance is the force that keeps us from living the life we want, from taking the risks we should, and from creating the things we are capable of creating. Any time we act against our best interests, it is due to our own inner Resistance.
As Pressfield describes it, “Resistance cannot be seen, touched, heard, or smelled. But it can be felt. We experience it as an energy field radiating from a work-in-potential. It’s a repelling force. It’s negative. Its aim is to shove us away, distract us, prevent us from doing our work.”
Resistance turns up in the form of safe problems that distract us from our real problems, that is to say the quality ones, whose solutions will propel us to a new level of success. It turns up in the way we trap ourselves in maladaptive systems that steal our energy and potential. It whispers in our ear before we say the controversial thing in the brainstorming session. And, confoundingly, it’s most powerful just as we’re about to launch, publish, or present.
Allow me to testify. As I was writing the final pages of my soon to be published book, The Unstuck Leader, I found myself in a spectacular battle with Resistance. I had regular pounding headaches and struggled to sit at my desk. I felt an intense pull toward my sofa, where I longed to flop down and watch back-to-back episodes of Queer Eye until I fell asleep.
Resistance is a clue. If we’re resisting something, it’s because it wants to be heard, but we don’t want to hear it. We’re avoiding it, sweeping it under the rug so that we may remain in hunky dory mode. We’re resisting the thing that wants to emerge. And then, we get stuck.
Why was I resisting my own book? Why, fear of course. Fear of not being able to communicate my vision in a way that anyone would care about. Fear that after I published, I’d regret not doing a better job. I’d been writing the book for eighteen months. It was a part of my life. I did it almost every day. And, mostly, I loved every moment of it. But I knew that soon, I’d have to put my creation out into the world. And the voice that whispered in my head said, “What if no one cares?”
Ugh. It’s a wonder any of us ever try anything.
So, what did I do about the Resistance I was feeling? I had no choice but to turn into it, face it head on, and say Yes.
How did I learn to say Yes?
Well, lucky for you, I wrote a whole chapter in The Unstuck Leader about that very subject. Sign-up for my email newsletter (green box at top-right on desktop, or at the bottom of this post on mobile) to be one of the first to know when it’s released later this month.