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what it really takes to get better at something (and the one thing stopping you)

November 29, 2016

Everyone has something they wish they were better at—a physical capability, a business skill, or even simply being a better listener. And this desire is all well and good, but no progress is made from wishes alone. Yet even when people develop a plan for better, and eagerly begin, most don’t stick with it. Why not?

There is one reason—one universal thing that will most certainly creep up when you pursue something worthwhile that is good for you. And this one thing almost always deters you from your path, often in insidious and hard-to-pinpoint ways. This thing? It’s resistance. And it will keep your life status quo if you let it.

Here are the hard truths about trying to get better at something.

At first you’ll be really excited to try something new. And then, you’ll be really unexcited to keep going. That’s resistance.

You are going to be discouraged by the little progress you’ve made. For a long time. That’s resistance.

You’re going to be confronted with endless insecurities whispering in your ear that you don’t have what it takes. That’s resistance.

You are going to start wondering if what you’re pursuing is really all that worthwhile after all. That’s resistance.

You’re going to rationalize why now is not the best time for you to pursue this. That’s resistance. (And another way to rationalize is to believe “rational lies.”)

You are going to want to quit. That’s resistance.

It will take way longer than you want to see the results you want. That’s resistance.

It will cost you something—more than you might feel willing to give at this time. That’s resistance.

Steven Pressfield talks about this strange self-sabotage of resistance as “the most toxic force on the planet” who’s “aim is to shove us away, distract us, prevent us from doing our work.” Seth Godin calls it the lizard brain, the “voice in the back of our head telling us to back off, be careful, go slow, and compromise.”

And yet, even though resistance stalks every one of us, it can be beat. We like to think resistance is external, but the truth is, it’s internal. And this means it’s within our sphere of control.

Here are the beautiful truths about trying to get better at something.

When you know resistance exists, you can expect it, spot it, and call it what it is.

Once resistance is named, you see it for the liar it is, which gives you an alternative: cabi-clothing-wop-quote1

And when you hold fast to that truth, you can stay committed to doing something, even when you don’t feel like it, long enough to develop consistency.

And when you develop consistency, there will come a point when you begin to see progress.

And when you see progress, you’ll gain an incredible confidence, a renewed energy, and a heightened passion to keep going and develop a sustainable habit.

But beware—resistance doesn’t let go without a recurring fight. You’ll think you’ve conquered it and it might be waiting for you around the next corner. Yet, there is an opposite power counterpoised against it. Truth.

For me, the battle over resistance in certain areas of my life have been the hardest challenges I’ve ever encountered. Resistance has run painfully deep for me and has exposed the weakest parts of my being. It’s kept me from pursuing important goals and dreams. But as I confront it, it loses power over me. As I chose to push through it, it gets weaker with every step, more and more so the bolder my steps are. That is the truth of how resistance is overcome. That is the truth about how we get better at anything worthwhile.

At cabi this season, many of us took up the challenge to pursue an elegantly different thing we believed would make a positive difference in our lives. And I’ve been bowled over by story after story, evidencing the undeniable tenacity of the human spirit…the races run, weight lost, fears conquered, and relationships renewed. There is a rawness, a realness, an immeasurable vulnerability when you set out to improve, and you share with others the sobering reality of how grueling it is before you see any real glimmer of hope. It is in this sharing that we get strength from one another, strength to overcome the resistance.

There is, however, a vast difference between a victory easily won and one fought hard for. One simply doesn’t matter, and the other utterly transforms you and positions you to get better at even bigger, more worthwhile things.

What are you trying to get better at? And how do you counter the inevitable resistance?