Knowing is not enough, we must apply. Willing is not enough, we must do.”
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Knowing and willing are not enough; we must apply and do. How true these words ring and yet how hard it can be to cross the bridge from knowledge and intent to taking action! We’ve all encountered people — even ourselves — who see amassing knowledge as a form of action and over-research before they write. They gather ever-more information, piling it up until there’s a mountain of it. And then the mountain seems so high that they feel defeated by it and never get started.
And yet, on any given day — today, for instance — we’re intuitively attuned to what we need to do to move forward in our work. Most of the time, it’s no mystery — it’s pretty simple and straightforward. So what stops from getting on with it? Steven Pressfield has devoted a whole wonderful guide, The War of Art, to resistance in creativity that’s well worth reading. Three stumbling blocks trip me up — and perhaps you as well:
Overcoming inertia: This is huge — this is Resistance in its most blatant form. “It’s the start that stops most people,” according to Dr. Rob Gilbert* and most of us know just how true this is. Simple Rx: Apply “The 15-Minute Rule” — decide to commit just 15 minutes to getting started and often it’s enough to push forward (see post, 15 Minutes).
Overcoming fear: Another huge roadblock and reams have been written on it. It comes in a variety of flavors: fear of failure, fear of success, fear of inadequacy — these are chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry. Simple Rx: “Act as if it’s impossible to fail” — proceed as if success is inevitable. Figure out what you’d do if you knew success was a sure thing — then do it.
Overcoming distraction: Another biggie — and one of the sneakiest and most lethal forms of Resistance. Being a Turner Classic movie buff who’s whiled away many an hour, I can attest to this. Simple Rx: Put yourself on a distraction diet: give yourself strict allotments of time for entertainment and social media. Tough but doable.
OK, let’s start our Apply and Do engines — and all write on!
* Check out Dr. Gilbert’s wonderful Success Hotline (973.743.4690).
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