Do The Work

by Steven Pressfield

Troy Shu
Troy Shu
Updated at: February 23, 2024
 5 min read
Do The Work
Do The Work

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What are the big ideas?

  1. Resistance usually happens when we do creative things, try to improve ourselves, or make brave choices, making it hard to move forward.
  2. It's important to know that resistance tries to stop us from doing our work by distracting us and making us doubt ourselves.
  3. To beat resistance, we need to trust our gut feelings and natural talents, and be brave enough to take action even when we're unsure.
  4. Fighting resistance means understanding it's an internal challenge, acknowledging it won't give up easily, and knowing our real self has to face it.
  5. Facing tough times and failures helps us grow stronger; these experiences teach us to be tough and ready to show our work to others without fear.

Summary

Activities that Commonly Elicit Resistance

  • The pursuit of any calling in writing, painting, music, film, dance, or any creative art, however marginal or unconventional.
  • The launching of any entrepreneurial venture or enterprise, for profit or otherwise.
  • Any diet or health regimen.
  • Any program of spiritual advancement.
  • Any activity whose aim is the acquisition of chiseled abdominals.
  • Any course or program designed to overcome an unwholesome habit or addiction.
  • Education of every kind.
  • Any act of political, moral, or ethical courage, including the decision to change for the better some unworthy pattern of thought or conduct in ourselves.
  • The undertaking of any enterprise or endeavor whose aim is to help others.
  • Any act that entails commitment of the heart—the decision to get married, to have a child, to weather a rocky patch in a relationship.
  • The taking of any principled stand in the face of adversity.

Resistance: Its Nature and Tactics

  • “Resistance is a repelling force. It’s negative. Its aim is to shove us away, distract us, prevent us from doing our work.”
  • “Resistance will reason with you like a lawyer or jam a nine-millimeter in your face like a stickup man.”
  • “Resistance is always lying and always full of shit.”
  • “Though it feels malevolent, Resistance in fact operates with the indifference of rain and transits the heavens by the same laws as stars. When we marshal our forces to combat Resistance, we must remember this.”
  • “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.”
  • “The warrior and the artist live by the same code of necessity, which dictates that the battle must be fought anew every day.”
  • “Resistance aims to kill.”

Overcoming Resistance and Fostering Creativity

  • “We want to work from the Self, that is, from instinct and intuition, from the unconscious.”
  • “The last thing we want is to remain as we are.”
  • “Prepare yourself to make new friends. They will appear, trust me.”
  • “Ignorance and arrogance are the artist and entrepreneur’s indispensable allies. She must be clueless enough to have no idea how difficult her enterprise is going to be—and cocky enough to believe she can pull it off anyway.”
  • “A child has no trouble believing the unbelievable, nor does the genius or the madman. It’s only you and I, with our big brains and our tiny hearts, who doubt and overthink and hesitate.”
  • “Don’t think. Act. We can always revise and revisit once we’ve acted. But we can accomplish nothing until we act.”
  • “Be stubborn. Once we commit to action, the worst thing we can do is to stop.”

Principles of Overcoming Resistance

  • Principle Number One: There Is An Enemy
  • Principle Number Two: This Enemy Is Implacable
  • Principle Number Three: This Enemy Is Inside You
  • Principle Number Four: The Enemy Is Inside You, But It Is Not You
  • Principle Number Five: The “Real You” Must Duel the “Resistance You”
  • Principle Number Six: Resistance Arises Second
  • Principle Number Seven: The Opposite of Resistance Is Assistance

Resistance and Its Psychological Impact

  • “There is an enemy. There is an intelligent, active, malign force working against us.”
  • “Step one is to recognize [there is an enemy]. This recognition alone is enormously powerful. It saved my life, and it will save yours.”
  • “You are not to blame for the voices of Resistance you hear in your head.”
  • “If you’ve got a head, you’ve got a voice of Resistance inside it.”

The Challenges and Growth Through Resistance

  • Resistance puts two questions to each of us: “How bad do you want it?” and “Why do you want it?”
  • “The Big Crash is so predictable, across all fields of enterprise, that we can practically set our watches by it.”
  • “Crashes are hell, but in the end, they’re good for us.”
  • “A crash means we have failed. We gave it everything we had and we came up short. A crash does not mean we are losers.”
  • “When we experience panic, it means that we’re about to cross a threshold. We’re poised on the doorstep of a higher plane.”
  • “No matter how great a writer, artist, or entrepreneur, he is a mortal, he is fallible. He is not proof against Resistance. He will drop the ball; he will crash.”
  • “It takes balls of steel to ship.”
  • “When we ship, we’re exposed.”
  • “When we ship, we open ourselves to judgment in the real world. Nothing is more empowering because it plants us solidly on Planet Earth and gets us out of our self-devouring, navel-centered fantasies and self-delusions.”

Questions

  1. How do you confront and overcome the resistance that appears when you pursue creative or entrepreneurial activities?
  2. What strategies can you use to stay focused and avoid distractions while working on important projects?
  3. In what ways can acknowledging the presence of an internal enemy, like resistance, empower you to achieve your goals?
  4. How do you differentiate between the 'real you' and the 'resistance you' during challenging times?
  5. What are some actions you can take to actively combat resistance and stay committed to your goals?
  6. How can you harness your inner strength to persist through failures and setbacks in your creative or professional endeavors?
  7. What are the psychological impacts of resistance on your work, and how can you manage them effectively?
  8. How do you balance the need for creative intuition with the necessity to act and make progress in your projects?

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