Read Like A Gent: The War of Art by Steven Pressfield

People want to do more with the time they have these days. They want to advance in their careers, increase their wealth, improve their relationships, start side hustles, take meaningful vacations, explore the world, develop hobbies, and have more fun with the same twenty-four hours they have always had. Perhaps that desire to do more comes from an internal drive to create a positive legacy. Maybe it is a result of the ease of comparison to others through social media.

Or, perhaps it is simply wishful dreaming because few of us manage to do more with the time we have.

What stops us from doing what we want to do? What keeps us from doing the work that gets us to where we want to be?

Steven Pressfield believes that it is resistance that is the root of our inability to do what we say we want to do. A resistance perhaps sub-consciously constructed by our Ego. His book The War of Art discusses his beliefs on the matter and provides an example, if not a roadmap, for you to review in an attempt to overcome your inability to move forward with your dreams.

Defining the Enemy

To be victorious against your enemy, you must know your enemy. In Pressfield’s view, resistance is our enemy. An internal resistance that understands our desires and contradicts them with the offering of its wares. Resistance to starting a new exercise regimen. Resistance to waking up an hour early to learn a new skill. Resistance to anything that will upset the path of least resistance in our lives.

Resistance craves homeostasis. It wants easy, even if easy results in misery. When you know that cooking your food will be healthier and cheaper and help you feel better and more financially secure, resistance is what starts spitting out excuses for why you can eat out, just today.

Pressfield does a fine job in Book One of The War of Art of letting you know who exactly your enemy is, and just how cruel and unemotional that resistance can be when it attempts to dissuade you from doing what you know is right.

Turning Pro

How do you stop an enemy that doesn’t fight fair? You must become serious about winning. That means turning into someone who sees success over resistance as a responsibility instead of a favorable outcome.

To overcome resistance, you must change your mindset from wanting to do something, to being responsible for doing something. For example, instead of saying that cooking your own meal would be great because you would save money and eat healthier, you must flip a mental switch to recognize that cooking your own meal is a requirement for feeling better and saving money.

Wanting to cook your own food allows room for excuses to intervene. It provides an entry point for resistance to dissuade you. Knowing that cooking your own food is your only option removes any chance of resistance providing a separate path.

To be a professional, you must have something to lose. Making your goals a win-or-lose scenario is key in hardening yourself against resistance and the sweet whispers that may float out into the ether.

The Higher Realm

Pressfield starts his book off with a brief review of his daily writing habits. His victory over resistance. The term victory applies because each day finds the author in a new battle against resistance. He understands that resistance will never give up. It will always be a foe in your pursuit of your dreams and ideas of a higher calling.

In Book Three of The War of Art, Pressfield details his own weapons against resistance. His totems help harden his mindset. His daily prayer before he starts writing is the Invocation of the Muse from Homer’s Odyssey.

This part of The War of Art is perhaps the most difficult to accept, as it implies a reliance on magic and a higher power in your quest to find achievement. Some believe wholeheartedly that a divine spirit is the guiding hand of all great art. Others believe that greatness means becoming adept at a hard-earned skill while possessing the bravery to wield it.

What Pressfield allows for in his own belief, is that it doesn’t matter which reason may help you achieve your ambition. The source of greatness is not the point. The work you do is the point.

The War of Art is a book that is meant for creatives but provides flexibility in being applied to any pursuit of value. Starting your own business can be just as pleasing as writing the next great novel. In both pursuits, you will encounter resistance. Use this book as an inspiration on your path to greatness. Use it as a weapon against resistance.

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