Resistance is futile. Give it a rest!


Are you resisting success?Have you ever watched two hard-core arm wrestlers? Both are exerting all their strength to resist the force of the opponent’s hand. This typically involves a lot of sweat and strain, grunting and grimacing.

And, sometimes when a wrestler resists too hard, Bad Things happen. Just search YouTube for “arm wrestling gone wrong” and you’ll see what I mean. Dislocated elbows and broken bones are a high price to pay for resistance. I guess it’s not surprising so many people find it easy to resist accepting challenges to arm wrestle; it’s a way to stay safe.

Unfortunately, there’s one type of resistance, well known to many entrepreneurs, which does more harm than good. Are you one of the otherwise-smart people who resist taking the tough, uncomfortable steps you know you must take to make your business succeed? If so, I can guarantee you’re expending a lot of energy, sweat, and strain – and getting nothing useful to show for it.

Resistance is one way your ego tries to protect you.

The ego is marvelously creative – and so solicitous. There’s almost no limit to the number of ways your ego can devise to protect you from “harm”, i.e., anything that might bruise your feelings or your psyche.

Here’s the problem, though: In an attempt to keep you from harm, your ego also keeps you from true satisfaction and success. After all, it’s really hard to create a big, beautiful life for yourself if you’re continually playing small, living within your comfort zone, and choosing to avoid anything that looks risky.

Resistance can serve as a clue that what you’re resisting is important.

Whenever I share a challenging perspective or observation with a friend of mine, there’ll be a significant pause [insert sound of crickets chirping]. Then she’ll say, “That must be important; my stomach just knotted up.”

Pat is sufficiently self-aware to know she’s experiencing a physical reaction to her knee-jerk resistance – and to move beyond it.

Think back to a childhood illness and how your mom or dad had to hog-tie you to get you to take medicine that would make you feel better. If you had stopped thrashing long enough, you might have realized this action would take you a step closer to being well enough to play with your friends again. But despite the importance of treating the illness, you resisted the remedy.

Your inner child wants to do the same thing when it comes to moving your business up a level or three. The challenge is that you get to be both resistant child and outcome-oriented parent in this case.

Gay Hendricks, author of The Big Leap, offers a number of suggestions for dealing with hidden fears and the resistance they create. I’ve found this book to be hugely valuable, and I highly recommend it.

Resistance and success don’t mix.

Resistance depletes your energy and confidence as it delays or derails your success.

Resistance costs you. Don’t let anyone tell you differently.

This was brought home to me rather forcibly when I found myself resisting the need to take an empty laundry basket from our second-floor bedroom into the basement. I thought I’d just take it down to the main level now and finish the trip later. I didn’t want anyone to trip over it, naturally, so I started looking for an out-of-the-way place to put it. When I couldn’t find a big enough spot, I thought I’d just balance it on a near-by chair, but then I realized I’d have to clear the chair off. That’s when the Blinding Flash of the Obvious hit me: Stop wasting time and energy and just take the damn thing to the basement. And be done with it. So I did.

Resistance is good at camouflaging itself.

Resistance often disguises itself as “reasonable explanations” for why you’re not moving ahead on something. So how can you tell you’re getting sucked into the black hole of resistance? Ah, let me count the ways.

Resistance can suck away your effectiveness.


Got enough to think about yet?

Resistance is a PITA fact of life for most of us, and, while it’s not necessarily easy to deal with it, it’s certainly important to deal with it if you’re committed to success on your terms.

So I encourage you to do some homework this week and start identifying the activities and situations which most often trip your resistance switch. Then next week, when you have that awareness top of mind, we’ll explore some ways to deal with this challenge. Because resistance is not the boss of you – unless you let it be.

If you find yourself resisting the idea of tackling this by yourself, it might be worth it for us to have an ear-to-ear conversation.

My specialty is working with entrepreneurs who are stuck and don’t want to be, but they’re stuck, but they don’t want to be, but they’re stuck…If this sounds like you, I’d be curious to learn if you and I might make do good work together kicking the butt of your resistance.

An efficient and no-risk-to-nobody way to do this is through a get-acquainted phone call. After just 30 or 40 minutes, you and I would both be confident in whatever mutual decision we reached – yes, no, or not yet.

If that’s worth exploring, just call me at 319-270-1214 or email me with “I almost resisted sending this email” in the subject line. We’ll set up a time for our call and see what transpires.

(By the way, thanks to Hector Alejandro for his arm-wrestling image and the NASA Goddard Space Center for the black-hole image.  I found both in the Creative Commons section of Flickr.)

This entry was posted in effectiveness, productivity and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Resistance is futile. Give it a rest!

  1. Jane Lovas says:


    This is great — resistance is futile!! So true and, boy, do we try to resist. Thanks for the reminder.

    • Kathleen Mavity Kathleen says:

      You’re welcome, Jane. I just wish I didn’t have so much personal experience with the idiocy of resistance that I can speak with such authority and authenticity about it…

  2. Lilia Lee says:

    The ego is so insidious, isn’t it?

    Many of us don’t even recognize resistance as such. We just become resigned to whatever is stopping us in our tracks.

    I like the section that follows “Resistance and success don’t mix.” You’ve hit the nail on the head on the cost of yielding to resistance.

    Thanks for this post. It is a reminder to myself to stop my pity-party and put my ass in gear.

    • Kathleen Mavity Kathleen says:

      Ah, yes, the “ass in gear” approach. Thank goodness I’ve got some accountability partners that ensure I don’t weasel out of stuff that makes me uncomfortable!

  3. Pingback: Are you resisting being resistant? | Stepping Into Big

  4. What a perfectly timed post, Kathleen. I think this is great; a reframe of what resistance is. I think it’s time to .. lean in, instead of avoiding. And very interesting note about how resistance in one area leads to resistance in another area. Now that I do exercise regularly, I think that I am more flexible with other aspects of life as well (I resisted an exercise schedule for a long, long time.)

    • Kathleen Mavity Kathleen says:

      Dorothy, thank you so much for sharing your observation about resistance (or lack of) in one area of life can create more of the same in other areas. I think that makes a huge amount of sense, and it’s something I get to pay more attention to.

      And your comment about “leaning in” is so similar to a recommendation our minister made at church the other day: Run toward our fear rather than from it, because that’s how we move past it. Do you think the Universe is trying to tell me something?

  5. Sometimes I wish it were easier to print certain posts out and read them several times. This is one of those, Kathleen! I think my most favorite take-away is this: Resistance can serve as a clue that what you’re resisting is important.

    Great insight and things to think about as I start my day today! Thanks

    • Kathleen Mavity Kathleen says:

      Wow, Cena – I had to take time to do a happy dance after reading your comment and before replying to it. I’m thrilled that you found this so valuable. Maybe I should think about printing it out for myself…

  6. Lori Manns says:

    Wow, this is so timely for me. Thanks for the reminder that resistance is pointless.

    • Kathleen Mavity Kathleen says:

      Lori, this seems to be an issue that’s really making the rounds. At least we all know we’ve got company…

  7. You’ve shared great tips to overcome resistance, Kathleen. And I love your analogy about the child resisting taking the medicine. It helps me to think of my inner child as the little PITA who’s resisting doing what is best for me in the long run. Another fantastic book on the topic of resistance is The War of Art. You’ll finish it in an hour and feel like a warrior.

    • Kathleen Mavity Kathleen says:

      Thanks, Lori. Resistance always seems to be lurking, but I notice a LOT of people experiencing it with particular insistence these days. I’m choosing to believe we’re all experiencing “the breakdown before the breakthrough”.

      And funny you mention The War of Art; it’s next up in my To Read stack!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

— Web design by wizzy wig design Minneapolis MN —