Options, power and the Resistance

​They want to hire me. I know that and they know that. So I walk into the meeting and tell them what I want.

“First, more money. What you’re offering is industry standard. I’m better than that and you can afford more than that.

Second, I’d like a stipend to cover the cost of any hardware or software I need to buy. And a budget to cover ongoing professional development.

Third, I’d prefer every Friday to be study day. That means I’m given the freedom to read and learn about whatever I feel is necessary.

Fourth, if I have to travel, I want to fly in first.”

If you’re negotiating, options are quite literally, power. Why? Because if you have an option, you have something you can concede to the other party in exchange for something else. You can trade. You can bargain. 

With options, you can be more flexible.

“Resistance” is what Stephen Pressfield calls the cocktail of fear, shame, anxiety, uncertainty and doubt that prevents us from doing our work. Fighting it is hard. But there are things we can do to overcome it. There are many ways to overcome it. We have options. We have power

Sometimes, we just need to remember that.

The first is to stop censoring ourselves. As Ray Bradbury said, “self-consciousness is the enemy of all art.” Which means you have to let all the boring, confusing, crazy stuff out. You don’t have to show it to anyone, but you do have to let it flow freely.

The second option is to stay exactly where we are. To recognise that Resistance is temporary. Stay still and stare it down. Force yourself to breathe and be aware of what your feeling. Accept your feelings, don’t judge them.

This is what mindfulness teaches. Rather than running from unwelcome emotions, you embrace them. You look at them and interrogate them. Ask yourself, where is this coming from? How strong is this feeling? How long has it lasted in the past and how long will it last now?

What you’ll find is that fear, doubt and uncertainty wither under the light of investigation. What seemed so intense and painful, is in fact, dull and small.

You could also do the opposite and remove yourself from where you are. If you’re inside, go out. If you’re out, go in. If you’re sitting, stand. If you’re stressing, play.

A fourth option is to ask, “what have I missed?” If this is not how you feel most of the time, typically, something has gone differently. There’s been a rupture in your normal routine or an upheaval somewhere in your life. Look back and find it. 

If you can trace the beginnings of the feeling, it becomes less scary. Fear is based on ignorance, so search for the moment that begun all this.

The final way to stave off Resistance is this: wait five more minutes.

You’re hungry and you’re searching through the cupboards. Nothing, nothing, nothing, FOOD. Lovely, sweet, delicious, junk food. Here’s where you make a deal with yourself. “If in five minutes, I’m still craving it, I’ll come back and eat it.” 

Most people find that that five minutes is enough for the temptation to pass. 

It works for Resistance too. If you’ve done all of the above and you still feel like quitting, make a deal with yourself. “I’ll give it five more minutes. Five more minutes of sincere effort. If that doesn’t work, I’ll walk away and come back tomorrow.”

Make the deal and you’ll find that Resistance is temporary. It’s enemy is time. Because with time, we gain perspective. And when we gain perspective we realise fear is just ignorance. And when we understand that, we stop being scared and do the work.