Encore Episode: How to Overcome the Resistance [Podcast]

I am on sabbatical for the next few weeks. While I am gone, I am running a series of “Encore Episodes.” These are my most popular podcasts ever, as measured by number of downloads. Enjoy!

Steven Pressfield coined this phrase to describe that invisible, destructive force that opposes you any time you try to start a new project or make an improvement in any area of your life.


Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/mariusFM77

I spoke on this topic at the recent Platform Conference, and the response was tremendous. So I wanted to share some practical counter-measures for dealing with the Resistance in your own life and work.

Click to Listen

In order to deal with the Resistance, you have to first understand what it is. It has four attributes.

  • Attribute #1: It is invisible.
  • Attribute #2: It is internal.
  • Attribute #3: It is insidious.
  • Attribute #4: It is infallible.

But what can you do about it?

You can only defeat the Resistance by understanding its three primary strategies and applying appropriate countermeasures.

  • Strategy #1: Fear. The typical response to this strategy is procrastination.The countermeasure is to START.
  • Strategy #2: Uncertainty. The typical response is distraction.The countermeasure is to FOCUS.
  • Strategy #3: Doubt. This usually occurs at the end of a project, and the typical response is to quit and leave the work unfinished.The countermeasure is to FINISH.

Defeating the Resistance is essential to your growth, but more importantly it is essential to your transformation. Who you are becoming is more important than what you are doing.

Listener Questions

  1. Jeff Sanders asked, “How do you keep your own creativity from becoming another form of the Resistance?”
  2. Jen McDonough asked, “What kinds of outside things do you bring into your life to help fight the resistance?
  3. Joanna Holman asked, “How do you know what you are facing is Resistance rather than a sign that what you are doing is not the right thing for you or you are doing too much and need to back off?”
  4. Marc Schelske asked, “What has helped you to stop the cycle of perfectionism and get the product out the door?”
  5. Sue Detweiler asked, “What are ways that we personally create Resistance and sabotage our own progress?”
  6. Travis Dommert asked, “How does the Resistance work in the presence of a group?”

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Episode Resources

In this episode I mentioned several resources, including:

Show Transcript

You can download a complete, word-for-word transcript of this episode here, courtesy of Ginger Schell, a professional transcriptionist, who handles all my transcription needs.

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Question: How has the Resistance shown up in your life? What have you learned about it? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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  • http://www.adorbs.com/ Adorbs

    Ah, FOCUS. That is one of my hardest things to do.

    If we stand outside, we all get the same amount of sun, but the one with the magnifying glass is the one burning things.

    I need to focus so I can be on fire.

  • http://JonDHarrison.com/ Jon D Harrison

    Such solid content here. One way that I have learned to overcome the resistance is to “Shrink the Change” with a little help from Dan Heath & Superman (The Man of Steel). I actually posted about this very topic this morning!


  • Tina Mollie Fisher

    Michael, You always have the perfect message at the perfect time. Thanks so much for this super helpful podcast!

  • rabbimoffic

    One of the great benefits Pressfield gives us is naming the feeling we all experience. By naming it the resistance, we can better get our hands around responding to it, and Michael teaches us how.

  • Anita Dawes

    we are blotting paper for all helpful advice as we do want to succeed, but we have a question Most of you recommend that we should be with WordPress, and we did try but it was just too complicated. Does that mean we are doomed to fail or can we succeed with Blogger?
    Please advise. http://www.anitajaydawes.net or jenanita01@btinternet.com

  • Frankie Manners

    This is one of the greatest talks I’ve had the privilege to listen to. The resistance is really beating me up right now. I think I may be on the verge of a very important breakthrough. I just pray for the strength to keep pushing through because it is a lot harder than I ever expected it to be.

  • http://www.jackiebledsoe.com/ jbledsoejr

    Great podcast, Michael! I remember this one.

    When you rerun a post on your site, do you recreate the exact same post over again? Or do you just change the date, and add your text box at the beginning? I am concerned with having a negative SEO impact when doing so with my content on my site. I don’t fully understand the 301 redirect to prevent a negative SEO hit.


    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      In this case, we re-created it, because we re-did the audio. I am not too concerned about it. Thanks.

      • http://www.jackiebledsoe.com/ jbledsoejr

        Ha! I bet not. ;) But should I be?

        Re-did the audio?? Looks like I may need to listen again. Thanks, Michael! :)

        • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

          Sorry, I should have been more clear, we re-did the intro and outro. The core content stayed the same.
          I think you should check. Let me know what you find out. Thanks.

  • http://justincarper.com/ Justin Carper

    Great stuff! I shall overcome (the resistance)

  • http://bluecollarworship.com/ Neil Oldham

    The work you’re doing here is helping a lot of folks overcome resistance….well, at least me! I wouldn’t have started my new blog at all if it hadn’t been for your “WordPress in 20 Minutes” post. Thanks so much!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Thanks,, Neil. I appreciate that.

  • Argh

    At the 18-minute mark of your audio presentation you quote “W. H. Murry”. Unfortunately, that life-altering advice is the work of JOHANN WOLFGANG GOETHE (pronounced Gur-tuh). This is why I don’t read self-help books; the genre seems to be a “cottage industry” made up of incessent “book writer gurus” scurrying about “compiling information” they can recycle into their latest and greatest must-read book.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      I’m sorry, but you are mistaken. It is from Murray’s book, The Scottish Himalayan Expedition (1951). It is often mistakenly attributed to Goethe by faux literati who post under an anonymous name and don’t do their homework. ;-)

  • shelleymolitor

    I see resistance in my life in many areas. Business building is where it stays the biggest. For example, when attending a group coaching workshop this week, I committed to creating a specific new program. Later, when I looked over my business journal to start working up ideas, I found my outline sitting there all ready to go! I guess I will now dub my business journal my resistance compass!

  • Gordon
  • Sally

    I had a paper due last Spring and was so energized and focused on cleaning my closet, cleaning my house, and hanging curtains when I should have been writing … needless to say I was down to the wire to finish & submit my paper on time. And have often wondered when resistance came/comes my way if I was doing the right thing or going in the right direction. Your podcast is DEFINITELY going to help me continue and finally gain some traction.

  • http://dareesinsights.wordpress.com Daree

    A few fears/procrastination/resistance issues have come to a head, and its time for me to conquer the beast. Thanks for inspiring me to blog about my own fear and resistance–I’ve asked for accountability to start the work and get over the hump.

  • Michael S

    I am an amateur stand up comedian. My humor is clean and family oriented.
    I desperately wanted to go on stage so I did! It had been to long.
    I went to a single bar for an open Mic night. Wow did I get the wrong crowd for my humor. The comics before me were not very clean. The MC was not very clean. So when I went up, my family clean bit got no laughs! I was up for 3 minutes and got nothing! I went to work the next day and my co-workers asked, “So how was it?” I told them I bombed it and they laughed.
    The resistance was there when I was up on stage. What a great feeling of doing what you love with no return. Seriously. It was a great feeling to go up infront of a crowd and bomb. I think I learned more from this terrible experience than I would have if the crowd was asking for an encore.

  • Michael S

    I did an open Mic stand up once on Wednesday. On Tuesday I had an awful pot throwing fight with my wife. I could have backed down but chose to follow through with my performance. It tanked as I wasn’t funny and the crowd thought I was an idiot. I look at events like these as milesones. What a victory!
    I faced the resistance both on stage with not feeling funny and off stage by working out our marriage miscommunication.