How to Battle the Resistance and Own Your Territory Through The War Of Art

Niklasgoeke summary about The War Of Art is good. This book is written by Steven Pressfield and 1-Sentence-Summary: 

The War Of Art brings some much needed tough love to all artists, business people and creatives who spend more time battling the resistance against work than actually working, by identifying the procrastinating forces at play and pulling out the rug from under their feet.

Steven Pressfield is gold. After graduating from university in 1965 the variety of jobs he held seems to know no end, ranging from advertising copywriter to schoolteacher, tractor-trailer driver, bartender, oilfield roustabout, attendant in a mental hospital, fruit-picker in Washington state, all the way to screenwriter.

Just like Robert Greene, he wasn’t afraid to do the work he needed to, in order to keep working on his dream – becoming a writer.

Do The Work (his follow-up to this book) says it all, so it’s only fair the original book about Resistance joins the ranks.

Here are the 3 biggest lessons you can learn:

  1. You’re not alone, everyone struggles with Resistance.
  2. You have to treat your dream like a full-time job.
  3. Commit to a territory and you might change the world.

Ready to turn pro at your dream? Here we go!

Lesson 1: You’re not alone, everyone struggles with Resistance.

Have you ever had that feeling that you are here to do something great? Maybe you feel you owe the world a great book, a new approach to fitness, or even a blockbuster movie.

If so, today’s a different day than most days for you. Because instead of waking up, thinking about it for a second, and then shrugging it off, you’re actually going to deal with it.

The force that makes you swallow your urge to pursue your dream is called Resistance (the capital R is important), and everyone in the world struggles with it – you’re not the only one.

It’s this negative, opposing, ghastly little voice that tells you to stay at your job and not risk failure, that you’re not good enough to paint something great and that you can always start working out tomorrow.

Resistance manifests itself in the form of fear of failure, procrastination and self-doubt and, worst of all, is universal. It doesn’t exclusively speak to you, it targets everybody.

Will Smith was afraid to meet with Quincy Jones before becoming the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, John Lee Dumas was afraid to launch Entrepreneur On Fire, and Henry Fonda threw up before every single performance even long after he was successful.

Everyone struggles with Resistance. Don’t let that be your excuse.


“Resistance is directly proportional to love. If you’re feeling massive Resistance, the good news is, it means there’s tremendous love there too. If you didn’t love the project that is terrifying you, you wouldn’t feel anything. The opposite of love isn’t hate; it’s indifference.”

Wanna know the best part about Resistance? There’s a very simple rule of thumb to keep in mind about it: “The more important a call or action is to our soul’s evolution, the more Resistance we will feel toward pursuing it.”

In other words: if quitting your job to start a new business doing what you love is super-important to you, then you can bet you’ll be feeling some super-high Resistance about doing it too. So, the key idea is this: Resistance is a signal to get moving towards whatever you’re feeling fearful or apprehensive about.

The less you “want” to do it, the more important it is to actually pull up your socks and start taking action towards it… whatever “it” may mean to you. The more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.

Lesson 2: You have to treat your dream like a full-time job.

So what do you do to combat Resistance? What any professional would do: you work.

Stop treating your dream like it’s a hobby, it’s your dream for crying out loud!

If your dream is really this thing that you want to be with all your heart, that you want to center your life around, then how come you treat it like a second cousins once removed’s BBQ party?

Don’t just tinker around for a few hours here and there, go all in, all chips into the pot.

When you treat your dream like your regular, full-time job, you can transfer a lot of the skills you apply to the latter to the former, even if they’re not related at all.

Do you show up to your job on time? I bet you do.

Do you keep working when shit hits the fan? I bet you do.

Do the same for your dream.

All pro’s know this.

I write only when inspiration strikes. Fortunately it strikes every morning at nine o’clock sharp. – W. Somerset Maugham

Schedule time to work on it, every single day, and then just show up.

Lesson 3: When you commit to a territory, you can change the world.

Each of us has a different calling. Some of us are app developers, some want to direct movies, others write books or knit tea cozies.

That means we all pick different territories to leave our mark in.

You find your territory based on 3 things:

  1. It makes you feel better every time you go there. You can bet that Stephen Hawking felt better every time he came out of his office, and that Arnie was pretty satisfied after each gym session. Your territory is a place where you feel you grow, where you’re challenged and satisfied at the same time.
  2. You can only become king of the hill through hard work. The only respect a professor gains is through the recognition of his work. Arnie made the gym his own by working out there every day of the week.
  3. It’s endless. The only limit to how much Hawking can get in recognition is the number of meaningful insights and theories he can produce – in theory, it’s endless. You get back however much you put in.

Not only will owning your territory benefit you and your work, you just might change the entire world.

Steve Jobs revolutionized the way we see and use computers, by committing to this territory and spearheading new developments and ideas in this field.

ACTIONABLE INSIGHT: Your territory is your calling. It’s your “gym”, your “playground”, your “notebook”, “your computer”, your “microphone”. It’s that place you know you need to be in order to do your best work. you don’t know it — figure it out. If you’ve figured it out — then claim it — not just once, but every single day.

My personal take-aways

Steven Pressfield feels like the kind of guy you could just bump into on the street, and strike up a great conversation with from the get-go.

He’s seen a lot and done the work (still doing it) – it feels refreshing to learn from someone so real. His approach is stoic, even Spartan, some might say, but he never forgets having fun – and it shines through in his work.

Whether you believe Cal Newport, who says to just pick a profession and let passion follow, or others like Steven, who put passion first, it doesn’t matter.

The message remains the same: Be a professional. Don’t wait for motivation, the perfect moment, or other peoples’ approval, just sit down and work – that’s still the best productivity hack there is.

What else can you learn from the blinks?

  • What your unlived life is
  • How Quentin Tarantino turned pro
  • What being a professional really means and how Tiger Woods lives this
  • The thing professionals focus on (it’s never the goal, ask Oprah)
  • Which positive force Steven calls upon every morning to counteract Resistance
  • What hierarchies do to professionals and how they battle against it
  • The thing you should do the next time you’re afraid

More and directly quote from the author: 

Want to know the best possible way to fight Resistance?

Turn pro. Become a professional.

To clarify, when we say “professional”, we’re not referring to “the professions” or becoming a professional by name (i.e. doctor, lawyer, author) but what we mean is to become a Professional as an ideal. There’s a huge difference between turning pro in contrast to remaining an amateur.

  • Amateurs play for fun. Pros play for keeps.

  • Amateurs play part-time. Profs play full-time.

  • Amateur’s are weekend warriors. Pros are there every day of the week.

More about your life:

Too many folks still believe that consumerism contributes to happiness… They believe that buying a bigger house, a better car, or the latest gadgets will bring them the happiness they want… and although these things are great to have—and even contribute to small spikes of emotional wellbeing—they do not contribute to life-long fulfillment… But here’s what does:

  • Our health,

  • The social + emotional connections we develop with others.

  • Our values, our purpose, and the sense of meaning we give to our lives + level of contribution.

  • And of course, our WORK… The joy we feel from sitting down and doing the work we have before us, day after day. This can be the difference between living fully vs living empty.

Here’s what it comes down to in the end: It doesn’t matter whether your goals are entrepreneurial or whether they’re artistic, if you want to tap into the highest version of yourself, then you need to: Feel the fear and do your work in spite of it… Figure out whatever territory you operate best within — whether that’s a stage, an office, or an Olympic swimming pool is totally up to you. It’s just important that you figure it out. Because if we want to live the happiest, most creative, and most inspiring lives we’re capable of living — then we’ve got to tap into our highest point of contribution… And in order to do that — in order tap into the best part of ourselves — we’ve got to push past Resistance, become dedicated Professionals, and show up every single day — ready and willing — to DO OUR. WORK.

Best Regards,

Paul Fan

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