The War of Art
You’ve likely heard of Sun Tzu’s classic, ‘The Art of War’ which is a great book on strategy that has stood the test of time.
But, have you heard of Steven Pressfield’s modern – ‘The War of Art‘?
In the modern world there’s endless possibility.
Teenagers are founding multi-million dollar businesses, the world record 100m sprint time continues to improve, feats of strength and skill previously deemed impossible are now a reality.
As Pressfield elaborates on in his book, ‘The War of Art‘ the only thing standing in your way between where you are today and where you want to be, be it on that first place podium or the lounge room of your multi-level mansion is resistance.
We all too often deem the work itself to be hard, but we’re wrong.
Overcoming resistance to start doing the work is the hardest part.
As I write this it’s 12:53pm, I had scheduled to sit down at 12:00pm to get started writing but I procrastinated, I made up excuses and performed petty unimportant tasks instead of sitting down and starting the first paragraph.
I’ve already written a couple hundred words and as I flick through my copy of ‘The War of Art’, reading the notes I placed in the side margins and the key points I highlighted and underlined Pressfields view on resistance could not be more correct.
This is easy.
The work is easy.
Overcoming your inner resistance to get the damn thing started is the hardest part.
You don’t have to be a writer or an artist to find truth in this…
Think about the days you’re lacking motivation to do your morning cardio or your evening strength training workout – you procrastinate going to the gym.
If you get in the car and pull into the gym’s parking lot you’ve already won the majority of the battle, as once you’re there you’ll get through your workout.
‘The War of Art‘ explains what that resistance is, how to overcome it and how to continue along with momentum, channelling your inner muse.
Broken down into 3 ‘books’ you’ll find the following:
Book 1 – Resistance: Defining the Enemy
Defining the Enemy delves into what resistance is and how it’s hiding in every failed endeavour or unfinished task you’ve started.
Resistance comes in the form of procrastination, self-doubt, fear, supposed lack of knowledge and every other limiting belief or excuse in between.
You’ll discover that resistance will be in your way when it comes to any task that’s worth doing, be it writing a book, starting a new diet or founding a new business.
This introduction to resistance is key, as once we know what it is and we recognize it in our lives we can begin to overcome and eradicate it.
Book 2 – Combating Resistance: Turning Pro
In Book 2 – Combating Resistance, Pressfield delves into how we’re able to overcome resistance and get shit done.
You must begin to identify as a pro. Once you go pro you’ve changed your mindset, you’ve set new rules and you have no time or regard for whatever resistance does to try and stop you.
You begin to forge forward as you know what needs to be done, you know what you value.
You’re no longer the amateur, you’re no longer listening to your feelings (the tiredness, the doubt, the frustration that onsets as a form of resistance).
In Book 2 you learn to become a conqueror, a war winner.
Book 3 – Beyond Resistance: The Higher Realm
We must constantly aspire for higher, and in Book 3 that’s exactly what Pressfield has in mind for us.
This section of the ‘War of Art’ is different to the last two, in here you’ll find the intangibles… the channelling of your inner muse, the unlocking of a higher power.
Take from it what you will – there’s no need to be religious to see what Pressfield is portraying in the search for our way through resistance.
Notable Quotes from The War of Art
I recommended picking up a paperback copy of ‘The War of Art’ and taking notes, writing in the side margins and highlighting what stands out to you as there’s a ton of motivation mixed in with practical knowledge and techniques within this book to get you building up momentum once again and setting you on track to smash those lofty goals.
“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.”
“Fear is good. Like self-doubt, fear is an indicator. Fear tells us what we have to do.
Remember our rule of thumb: The more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.
Resistance is experienced as fear; the degree of fear equates to the strength of Resistance. Therefore the more fear we feel about a specific enterprise, the more certain we can be that that enterprise is important to us and to the growth of our soul. That’s why we feel so much”
“Fear doesn’t go away. The warrior and the artist live by the same code of necessity, which dictates that the battle must be fought anew every day.”
“It’s better to be in the arena, getting stomped by the bull, than to be up in the stands or out in the parking lot.”
“The most important thing about art is to work. Nothing else matters except sitting down every day and trying.”
“Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within us.”
“Resistance outwits the amateur with the oldest trick in the book: It uses his own enthusiasm against him. Resistance gets us to plunge into a project with an overambitious and unrealistic timetable for its completion. It knows we can’t sustain that level of intensity. We will hit the wall. We will crash.”