What do most people do when they face resistance? Resist it.
Sadly, most people don’t even realize that they are resisting—because the kind of resistance I am talking about is emotional.
Try this exercise next time you see someone you know. Just ask them: "How is everything going at work?" and watch how they respond. Mind you, I did not say listen to what they say, I said watch how they say it.
Generally, the response will be about some challenges they are facing but, most importantly, you can see the frustration, annoyance and sometimes even anger at something. It is almost as if they are asking that the current sticky situation go away and everything becomes smooth again. On the other hand, ask the same person if they want to grow in their career and the answer will be a resounding: Yes!
Resisting resistance is to resist growth. Growth without resistance is an oxymoron. Whether you like it or not, resistance and growth are two sides of the same coin. If you want growth, you better get comfortable with resistance.
Look at your expertise. Think of how you became an expert. I am sure it was because you kept going with the same dedication even as things got complicated and the going got tough. You had to sweat through the journey but the results were sweet.
Before my entrepreneurial journeys, I used to consult for a customer relationship management company. We had a six month long project coming to an end and the last step was to migrate the data from the old system to the new system. We planned to start the data migration on Friday at 4pm. From our initial planning, the data migration tasks would be complete by Saturday 6am (it was an all-nighter) and our hope was that we could do a quick round of testing and go home by noon on Saturday.
Everything was fine until about 3am on Saturday morning. We had an endless supply of coffee and the mood was still great. Then, something happened. One of the team members could not take it anymore. I think she was half asleep and instead of deleting some old data, she mistakenly deleted the entire database. Long story short—we had to work almost the next thirty six hours without sleep to get everything back in order before people started their work on Monday. I have to say we learned a lot.
The story I am telling you is more than 14 years old. The project was more than six months long but what I clearly remember from this project is this weekend when all hell broke loose. There was unbelievable resistance we as a team overcame it.
That’s the bonus of resistance—actually overcoming resistance—it creates fond memories for a lifetime.
So, let’s look at three things we can do to capitalize on this knowledge. Here we go:
1. Move away from easy work
Easy work in general will offer you less resistance. The more you crave and enjoy easy work, the less the opportunities to face resistance in your career and your life and hence less opportunities for growth. I am not saying that you refuse to engage in easy work at all. One option is to do all the easy work quickly and move on to harder tasks.
2. Gravitate towards hard work
Moving away from easy is the first step and the task is not complete unless you follow this step of consciously gravitating towards hard work. Tough problems offer a lot of resistance otherwise they won’t be tough problems. There is an old saying: “When the going gets tough, the tough get going." I would like to add that the tough not only get going, they are also the ones that are growing.
3. Have a Plan B
There is one side effect of moving away from easy work and gravitating towards hard work—you may not win all the time. In fact, in some cases you might just fall flat on your face. Sometimes you win and sometimes you learn. Knowing this, all you can do is to have a Plan B so that you can activate it when the need arises.
Image credit: Breast Cancer Fund