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How to Fail at Conquering The Resistance

A lot of people seem to think that if they aren’t failing then they are succeeding.   Like they’re one in the same.  They aren’t.

The opposite of success is actually not failing because if you’re not failing, you’re not trying.

“There is no failure except in no longer trying.” --Henry Ford

Failure is the “close, but no cigar” of the success industry.  The silver medal of success.  Come back next Olympiad and you’ll be the favorite for the gold.   Luckily, in the real world, you don’t have to wait every four years between attempts at success.

Someone who failed to make a jumpshot was a lot closer to being successful than someone who never took the shot (unless you’re Shaq).  Someone who never took a shot never had a chance at succeeding.

Sure, he can haughtily say: “I didn’t fail at making the shot.  Like you did.”  But so what?   That’s nothing to be proud of.

The thing is, we actually admire the sports stars that fail.  Why don’t we adapt that thinking to our own lives?  We admire Carmelo Anthony when he misses a game-winning shot because we know he’s the only guy on the court with the balls to attempt it.

To be so audacious!

No balls, no babies.

Who we don’t admire is the player who slinked to the corner and avoided any chance at taking the final shot.  And potentially failing.  (see:  Jared Jeffries)

“I've missed more than 9000 shots in my career.  I've lost almost 300 games.  26 times, I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed.  I've failed over and over and over again in my life.  And that is why I succeed.” --Michael Jordan

I too, like most every one, have serious problems at even attempting to fail.  At battling the Resistance that Steven Pressfield talks about in "The War of Art" and "Do the Work." Problems which are, sadly, all too similar to Stu Fish's struggles in HOW TO FAIL Chapter Four:  "How to Fail to Do Something Productive All Day."


*By being lazy -- Lounging around, watching TV, "getting to it later," is so much simpler than doing the work.

*By being stubborn -- Claiming I'm not quite ready to work, it's not the perfect time to work, I'll start soon enough.

*By being insulting -- Making fun of other people's work and claiming, "If I chose to do that work it would surely be so much better," is so much easier than doing my own work.  You should never make fun of people that have actually finished something, even if it's hacky garbage.  Try to write your own hacky novel.  It's ain't that easy.

*By sabotaging myself and my projects -- Starting a project is a piece of cake.  Writing a first line, an opening scene, the first act is a simple.  Writing the third act, the ending chapter, the final line, "THE END" seems impossible.  Easier to sabotage my project halfway through and just bail out.

*By letting my mind wander --I wonder what's happening on Twitter, what new beers are on tap at Rattle 'n' Hum, whether the Yankees have a home game today, what's playing at the Angelika, etc, etc, etc...

*By indulging in other's arts -- So much easier to read a great book, enjoy a wonderful movie, become entranced by a great TV series than actually create my own.  I make the excuse I'm getting "inspired" for my own work by indulging in these things.  Bullshit.

*By choosing lizard brain hedonism over hard work --I mentioned yesterday how a few drinks can help me release the tension and conquer The Resistance, oil the pistons to actually start the work, but too many drinks just leads to hedonism, primitive goofing around, and waking up the next morning feeling too lazy to work.

*By lacking balls -- Writing a witty Tweet, dashing off a quick blog post, creating an outline for my new book takes no courage.  Any one can do those things.  Millions of people do every day.  But closing the door, turning off my phone, setting the computer to offline and writing for the next five hours, and then for the next two years til I finish another book...that takes real balls, baby.

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Comments (7) Trackbacks (0)
  1. I totally could have written this post.

  2. I wish you were my ghostwriter.

  3. Well Aaron, it looks like you succeeded in fighting the Resistance enough to write this post. That’s huge. It’s more than I could do, all I could muster is enough to write this comment. Which I guess is worth something too.

    Thanks for being a warrior against the big ‘R’.

  4. Loved this, “Luckily, in the real world, you don’t have to wait every four years between attempts at success.”

    Repeated attempts in the direction of one’s dream – getting up every time one falls – will help win more Gold medals than one can imagine.

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