Do the Work

Summary Written by
"Resistance is the response of the frightened, petty, small-time ego to the brave, generous, magnificent impulse of the creative self."

- Do the Work, page 63

The Big Idea

Meaningful Work Can Lead to Resistance

"Resistance is a repelling force. It’s negative. Its aim is to shove us away, distract us, prevent us from doing our work."- Do the Work, page 6

Now that we know what all these unproductive thoughts are, we can use the following tools to identify the characteristics of Resistance. We’re experiencing the Resistance when:

  • We start to question ourselves and the foundation of our projects too often
  • We feel negative energy flowing around us; we seem to lose our passion for the things we used to love doing everyday
  • We become easily distracted and we start to procrastinate in order to avoid working on our ideas

The hardest thing to do is to realize when the Resistance is working against us. Once we are able to identify it, then the fight becomes a lot easier to win.

Insight #1

Conquer It Once and For All (Or Not)

"Rule of thumb: The more important a call or action is to our soul’s evolution, the more Resistance we will feel toward pursuing it."- Do the Work, page 9

When we understand that the Resistance is present, it is much more manageable to get back on our feet and re-immerse ourselves in that passionate state of mind that led us to start our projects in the first place. Here are three ways to fight the Resistance and never allow it to control us again:

  • Stay stupid: Don’t allow yourself to think too much about the projects; instead concentrate on actually doing things
  • Trust the Soup: Trust that source of inspiration for our initial idea, and realize that we cannot control nor predict everything
  • Understand that we are not alone at experiencing this Resistance. All great and successful artists/entrepreneurs/writers, etc. have experienced (and conquered) their own Resistance

It is also important to understand that the Resistance is always present. Its sole purpose is to get in the way of our creativity and prevent us from finishing something significant. Even after we conquer it once the Resistance will come back and haunt us during each and every project we undertake. However, the mere realization that we will eventually confront it during difficult times, gives us sufficient power to ensure that its effects are minimized and our projects no longer get (fully) derailed.

Join our newsletter

Sign up for the very best book summaries right to your inbox.
We care about your data in our privacy policy.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Insight #2

Be Ready For It When You Least Expect It

"Ignorance and arrogance are the artist and entrepreneur’s indispensable allies."- Do the Work, page 12

The Resistance does not necessarily emerge when we’re about to finish something. Unfortunately, it can also prevent us from actually starting a project. Just remember the last time you had a great idea you were really excited about. But, when it was time for you to take the plunge, something in the back of your mind told you that maybe, after all, it was not such a big idea and that you should not go ahead and pursue it. It could have been a thought about a potential failure, questioning whether you were the right person, or maybe a doubt that your idea had no potential. Either way, you now know what you were faced with and, unfortunately in that case, the Resistance succeeded.

If we want to be able to accomplish anything significant, we have to be willing to fight the Resistance all the time. The good news is that from the moment we understand what is controlling all these unproductive thoughts, we will stop doubting ourselves and keep working on our project/book/play/song/business, etc. In addition, each successive conflict becomes easier and easier to win.

“We can always revise and revisit once we’ve acted. But we can accomplish nothing until we act.”

Do the Work will help anyone get unstuck and back on their feet in pursuing their passion and completing their projects. If you enjoyed Pressfield’s previous book The War of Art, you will enjoy this one even more. Do The Work is a fast read (98 pages) and in my opinion is a lot like jumping into an ice-cold lake: it wakes you up, makes you forget about all the none-essential things you were doing before, and forces you to understand that you are not alone in experiencing the symptoms of Resistance. But perhaps most importantly it inspires you to return to your projects full of passion and the strength to carry on and finish.

Read the book

Get Do the Work on Amazon.

Steven Pressfield

STEVEN PRESSFIELD is the author of the hugely successful historical novels Gates of Fire, Tides of War, and Last of the Amazons. His debut novel, The Legend of Bagger Vance, was made into a movie starring Matt Damon and Will Smith in 2000. He lives in California.

Subscribe to digest
Read about our privacy policy.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.