Overcoming Resistance to Continuous Development

At what point does one make a conscious decision to resist opportunities for new development?  Language, human development, strategic capabilities, behavior and our thinking are all informed through the very experiences we encounter. By resisting, declining, or refusing to show up; we begin to limit our potential for growth, contribution and impact.

If not now, when?

For do-ers, go-getters, and high achievers, there’s nothing more frustrating than external resistance. And I’d argue, there’s nothing more self-limiting than internal resistance.

The stopping point. Missed opportunities. Redundancy.

For many, resistance can feel a lot like treading water. It’s the sensation of struggling to stay afloat, and not being able to get to the surface for air. Often, sensations like this are all too familiar and while you might fantasize about someone tossing you a life preserver float to languish upon, you’ll resist taking the very actions required in order for you to conquer your obstacles. Ironically, many find comfort in the whitewater of the stress and overwhelm that persist in this state.

The illusions of resistance manifest in the stories we author. What’s your narrative? Do you witness or experience valiance, courage, survival, or strength as a result of the struggle? Strife is a distraction, not a reward.

The buoyancy of possibility is invitation and reward in overcoming resistance. What if all you need to do is recognize your patterns of resistance, deepen your confidence in your purpose and potential, and believe in what’s possible in order for you to truly crush it? The results you achieve will validate your perseverance, and they have the potential to ignite an insatiable momentum.

Having the fortitude to overcome your narrative requires awareness, self-reflection and a personal call to action. Choosing to invest in your future best self is invitation to come to the edge of the shore vs. racing the rising tide.

Resistance isn’t your stopping point. It’s your breakthrough. With the will to adapt and overcome, resistance can be your gateway to new possibilities. How will you use it to your advantage?

Know The Signs

Resistance, especially in leaders, is notoriously tricky. It’s a form of intense personal expression that changes constantly depending on the situation at hand. There are a few internal traits that are common, however: self-imposed stress, pressure to endure and achieve, fear of vulnerability in work or personal relationships, and even anxiety around exposing your innermost thoughts to those who might perceive you as “lacking” or “weak”.

Resistance isn’t only an internal reaction. It can also manifest itself externally. It could feel a lot like avoiding a situation rather than committing to a resolution, finding excuses around pain points, or passive-aggressive behavior that puts the responsibility on someone else’s shoulders.

To bend resistance to your will, make your actions more purposeful and less passive.

The first step to overcoming resistance is recognizing its presence and assessing it rather than avoiding it. Ask yourself a series of courageous questions and sit with the answers.  What about this is familiar to you? What are you willing to accept for yourself, your staff, your organization, or your family as a consequence of non-action. What excuses do you author?  It might help to visualize your resistance as a well-lit pathway, leading you initially through difficult passage, filled with uncertainty, risks and exposure before arriving at a place of resolution. This mental exercise can often help you see the way forward, rather than crouching where resistance stops you in your tracks.

Recognize Your Triggers

Next time you feel the familiarity of resistance creeping in, pay close attention to the trigger that set it off.

What exactly is going on and what’s the internal dialog?  Using the concept of causality, it’s a simple appreciation for connecting one event as contributing to another. It’s with great certainty that the ego is at play. Are thoughts of importance, fear, perceptions of weakness, vulnerability, status, or anger surfacing? Scarcity of time, expert mindset, level, title, seniority, current deadlines and deliverables are all familiar excuses, too. What exactly is it that’s screwing you out of your full potential?

To reiterate a critical truth, by resisting, declining, or refusing to show up at invitation of new experiences, we begin to limit our potential for growth, contribution and impact.

How you get to next week, next month, and next year is a collective build of conscious experiences, choices, and possibilities that are each anchored in the future. Think of it like a game of Tetris where the choices you make stack up – either in your favor or to your demise.

The fact is, poor choices and resistance are inextricably linked, as they both have short and long term impacts that cheat you out of living your fullest life. Impulsive decision-making might not feel like it accumulates debt in the moment, but the daily habit of choosing resistance over possibility creates long term consequences that become harder to reverse as time marches on.

We’re constantly challenged with unique client requirements, driving deliverables, exceeding performance metrics, developing new business, leveraging latest technologies and remaining relevant in ever increasing competitive markets. If you’re still not willing to invest in your professional development, appreciate that your peers and competition are willing to do so, and consider the following questions.

If not now, when? Can you afford to wait any longer? What’s your threshold for obsolescence, and when will you know? By then, will it be too late?    

The next time you start treading water, stop wasting your energy going nowhere. This is your red-flag call to action; ask yourself what you can do to break out of this ocean of resistance right now!