Have you ever been to Vegas?
One of my favorite activities growing up was going to a Pirate Show. (I grew up in Las Vegas and the show was free!)
If you’ve ever been to Las Vegas or seen pictures, you’ve likely discovered the Treasure Island Hotel and Casino. Steve Wynn is the brains behind this property. Wynn led the modern-day resurgence of Las Vegas when he renovated The Golden Nugget in 1987 and opened The Mirage in 1989. Over the next two decades, Wynn went on to build Treasure Island, The Bellagio, Wynn Las Vegas and Encore. The hotel owner at the center of the Oceans 11 and 12 movies (played by Andy Garcia) is modeled after Steve Wynn.
In the early 90s as Wynn was preparing to open his Treasure Island property, with its famous pirate show, he decided he needed palm trees which resembled the kind he had seen in the Caribbean. The trees he wanted needed to be contorted at extreme and precipitous angles. However, there were none on the market which looked like this. That is until Hurricane Andrew hit southern Florida in 1992.
When the Hurricane hit, it created the most bizarre looking palm trees. Since these trees could not longer be sold traditionally, Wynn was able to pick them up at a great price and you can now see them all over the hotel property on the Las Vegas Strip.
Wynn had a dream and without the unprecedented wind of the hurricane, he would’ve never found his trees. The way these trees stood against the wind brought Wynn’s dream to life.
The resistance of life is as inevitable for us as the hurricane-force winds were for those palm trees in southern Florida. If you’re moving forward, you’re going to experience resistance. And resistance is not something to be avoided; it is a gift to embraced. We have to learn to dance with the resistance and allow it to carry us forward. Resistance comes in multiple forms.
Resistance from within our heads
Steven Pressfield wrote the definitive book on resistance from within ourselves. In The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Creative Battles, Pressfield defines “the Resistance” as “that invisible, destructive force that opposes you any time you try to accomplish something significant or make an improvement in any area of your life.” You may have another term for the resistance which rises up in your head every time you get ready to take a big risk, do something bold or grow into a certain area of your life.
Resistance from within is often subtle and consistently deadly. We are often duped because our guard is up for outside forces, when the force from within is most dangerous. The voice inside our heads has defeated us more times than any outside voice or force. Fear of failure destroys more people than failure ever does.
Resistance from outside voices
You can call them haters, bullies, critics or just plain mean people. But each of us have people who do not want us to succeed. Their voices form an external resistance which we have to push through to accomplish our God-given purposes. When they start chirping, gossiping, naysaying or critiquing, we often get sidetracked and distracted. A text message, Facebook comment, email or secondhand story gets our dander up and we lose sight of what matters most. The “crowd” wins not only when we give up; they also win when we let up and rage against them.
There are people with something to lose if we successfully live out our purposes. Their loss may be something clear and profound. It also might be something subtle and invisible. Sometimes, just living our purpose is enough to make some people uncomfortable enough to go to war against us.
Resistance from outside forces
If you have identified a sense of purpose for yourself with any clarity, I’m going to hazard a guess that your purpose involves pushing against some resistance in the world. If you’re a leader, your work involves bringing people together in spite of obstacles around a common goal. Some of you are bringing order out of chaos, reconciliation out of fragmented relationships or justice out of acts of injustice.
While the resistance we face often leads us to despair and frustration, it is this very resistance which gives us work to do and meaning to make. I started this site to empower readers with new perspective. Why do people need new perspective if there isn’t resistance and opposition to clear vision and healthy attitudes?
As the seasons change and we begin this fall, we have new opporunities coming on a daily basis. We embark on a new journey with some inevitable resistance. How do we overcome these forms of resistance?
Seven Ways to Overcome Resistance and Stand Against the Wind
1. Claim your identity in God’s eyes.
God had a purpose for you before anyone had an opinion. And His love for you, expressed through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, is unconditional. His offer of grace and forgiveness is not based on anything you’ve done. So, instead of building your identity of others or your achievement of overcoming resistance, build your foundation on the unshakable, unchanging love of God. Claim that identity for yourself and make it the basis of all you do.
2. Know your purpose.
What gets you up in the morning? That sense of purpose needs to be revisited again and again. Gail Hyatt, wife of entrepeneur and best-selling author, Michael Hyatt, says, “People lose their way when they lose their why.” When we keep our purpose in clear view, we are driven by the right thing. Instead of being driven by the resistance, we can be driven by something even greater.
3. Decide what role others’ opinions will have.
Everyone will have an opinion about what you do today. And criticism is an inevitable part of life. But, before anyone throws a rock at what you’re building, decide what you’re going to do with their opinion. What filter will you use to determine the criticism which matters and the criticism which you ignore? I personally use this ten point system to evaluate the role of other people’s opinions, especially those which come in the form of criticism.
4. Identify your inner voice of resistance.
For some of us, if the voice inside our head was a friend, we’d unfriend them on Facebook, unfollow them on Twitter and block their number on our phones. Yet, we don’t fire the voice in our heads. Once we identify the negative voice in our heads as The Resistance, we can call it what it is and tune out its words. I use this chart to help set this voice’s commentary aside and tune into the voice which matters most.
5. Assemble your team.
Overcoming the resistance is not a solo competition; it’s a team sport. We need people to help us overcome the obstacles in our way to achieve our purpose. Hillary Clinton once said, “It takes a village to raise a child.” Author Jeff Goins wrote, “Every story of success is a story of community.” Regardless of the source, we need to embrace the idea that we need a tribe of people to do life with as we attempt to fulfill our purpose. We don’t know how much we need people until we need people. And we need to invest in relationships before we need to make a 911 call and ask for help! Build a team before you need it and they’ll be there when the times come.
6. Watch yourself.
A church member approached me on a recent Sunday and inquired why I wasn’t preaching. I shared that I preached 90% of Sundays for nearly 2 years during a different season of ministry. This led to burn out and I paid a great price in multiple areas of life. I refuse to go back to that place, so I now preach 70-75% of the time and invest in other communicators who can share the preaching role with me, allowing me to do my work in a healthy manner.
We each need a personal dashboard of sorts, to monitor how we are truly doing. One of my metrics is how much I’m preaching, but yours are likely much diffdrent. What do you monitor to know how you’re doing? You could track hours of sleep, days per week you exercise, vacation days taken per year, consecutive weeks you’ve had date night with your spouse or taken a full day off.
The one job you can’t delegate in life is caring for yourself. And if you fail that job’s performance review, nothing else you do will matter.
7. Learn from the resistance.
The resistance is a great teacher. We can learn things from the resistance we wouldn’t know any other way. In fact, if you’re not feeling any resistance, that’s probably the biggest warning sign that something is wrong. When we encounter resistance externally, we can learn about the people around us, what they care about and where their true loyalties lie. When we encounter resitance internally, we have probably stumbled on an area of fear or insecurity. Leaning into the resistance and learning from it can take us further faster.
One of my mentors regularly said, “If you’re not ticking somebody off, you’re not doing your job right.” He may have been too comfortable of the resistance but he knew making a difference in this world would always mean pushing through resistance.
This morning, I read the following words written by James, the brother of Jesus.
Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.
Don’t let the resistance you’re facing today beat you down. Give thanks for it and press forward!