My Enemy Is the Best Teacher
BOOK REVIEW: ‘The War of Art – Break Through The Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles’
“Steven Pressfield wrote ‘The War of Art’ for me,” says screenwriting guru Robert McKee in his foreword to the book. After reading “The War of Art” several times, I am convinced that Pressfield wrote this life-changing book for me, and for everyone who chooses to live an examined life.
Do you live an unlived life? Do you go to sleep at night wondering when you are going to start this company you have dreamed of having? Do you ponder how you can take some time off from your day job, which you often resent, to write the novel that is stuck in you and trying desperately to get out?
Do you doze off after a long, hard day, pondering what it is all about? And then snuggle your pillow and vow that tomorrow it will be different? Because right now, you are too tired, too frustrated, too full, too empty, too drunk and too resigned?
Tomorrow you will start your symphony. You promise that you will find some time and will fulfill your purpose or your destiny.
Do you wonder if you have some sort of a mission here that only you and you alone can accomplish? Do you question what happened to that young woman you once were who dreamed and had faith to make those dreams come true? Then this book is for you.
What makes you have this inner dialogue with yourself that your dreams are too lofty and life just happens? What makes you proclaim that Joe, the guy who created this “big data” company that grew like wild flowers in the desert after spring rains, is just all pure luck? What makes you bitch and complain that everything goes against you?
That thing is your greatest enemy. Your enemy is not something outside you. It isn’t your arrogant boss; it isn’t your narcissistic always-a-victim co-worker. It isn’t your demanding husband or your plumber.
That enemy is within you, and that enemy is conniving, insidious, powerful, cunning and most destructive. That enemy, as Pressfield writes, is Resistance with a capital R.
“Have you ever brought home a treadmill and let it gather dust in the attic? Ever quit a diet …? Have you ever bailed on a call to embark upon a spiritual practice, dedicate yourself to a humanitarian calling, commit your life to the service of others?
“Have you ever [he writes] wanted to be a mother, a doctor, an advocate for the weak and helpless; to run for office, crusade the planet, campaign for world peace, or to preserve the environment? …
“Are you a writer who doesn’t write, a painter who doesn’t paint, an entrepreneur who never starts a venture? Then you know what Resistance is.”
Pressfield invites us to have three life-sustaining square meals with him. Breakfast is Part One, “Defining the Enemy.” Meet Resistance — as in, recognize it and how infallible, omnipresent, universal and powerful it is. Knowing your enemy, you never again will have an excuse to make an excuse.
You are afraid to start this new venture? I am afraid to write this book review. Why? Because I want to do justice to this amazing book that got me to finally face my fears and get into the arena.
Again, as Teddy Roosevelt said better than anyone in his 1910 Sorbonne speech: “The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again; because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds.”
So get to know your one and only obstacle to building a company of your dreams or painting a masterpiece worthy of Van Gogh. Get out of the parking lot and get into the stadium.
When you wake up in the morning, start. Start right now. Showing up and doing the work is the first step to winning over your greatest opponent — procrastination. Regardless how insidious, Resistance can be beaten but only by you. And it isn’t just one battle; you will have to fight it and win it over again tomorrow and each day.
Next, when you get to know your own incarnations of Resistance, be it blaming others, excuses, drugs, booze, couch, sex or rock and roll, go to lunch with Pressfield: In Part Two, learn how to combat Resistance. In his words, “turn pro.” Turning pro is like giving birth. You no longer just play for fun. You play for keeps.
You don’t identify yourself as a weekend warrior and show up when inspiration strikes. Your love of playing this guitar or creating that data analytics software isn’t just a sideline. As a pro, you love working on your project so much that you are committed to it full time. The money will follow, or maybe not.
Van Gogh didn’t sell a painting during his life time, yet his paintings are the marquee of any museum collection. He loved his work. Van Gogh mastered his technique — because it is all in the technique.
When you love the work, commit to it, and the work will flow through you. Nevertheless, be patient. Don’t crash. Don’t cut off your ear. Be mindful of your enthusiasm. This isn’t a 100-meter dash. This is your life and purpose and, thus, your happiness that we are talking about. Ask for help, don’t be afraid of failure, and keep moving forward while showing up in sickness and in health.
Do you go to sleep at night wondering when you are going to start this company you have dreamed of having?
Then, when you have reinvented yourself, welcome to dinner with Pressfield as in Part Three. Here you go beyond Resistance into “the higher realm” — regardless of your faith in God, spiritual beliefs or the studies of the ancient teachers being of use to you. Unless you are a know-it-all, you must realize that, just like me, you know nothing or know so very little. There is so much unknown, invisible, beyond any imagination there.
Pressfield writes that the most important thing about art, creation or venture is to work. “Nothing matters except sitting down every day and trying.” Every day when we sit down and do the work, he adds, “something mysterious starts to happen. A process is set in motion by which, inevitably and infallibly, heaven comes to our aid. Unseen forces enlist in our cause; serendipity reinforces our purpose.”
If you believe in the laws of the universe, of physics or in a muse, invoke the latter and access the former. Get out of your own way. Fear is your invitation. The more fear, the more you have to do what you have to do to create and add value to this world.
The parking industry is changing. With self-driving vehicles,” smart cities,” mobility platforms, “big data,” the sharing economy and IoT, it is our duty to reinvent ourselves. Autonomous cars are here to stay, yet we all are interconnected. What we do to another, we do to ourselves.
It all starts with showing up now, being accountable now, facing our fears now and doing the work now. As Somerset Maugham said: “I write only when inspiration strikes. Fortunately, it strikes every morning at nine o’clock sharp.”
Good morning, all!
Contact Astrid Ambroziak, Editor of Parking Today Media’s parknews.biz website, at firstname.lastname@example.org.