Take What the Defense Gives You

Day 9 of our digital book club for Steven Pressfield’s Turning Pro and we’ve reached the end. I’ll write a big picture summary tomorrow since this book has really intersected my life in a season where I’m taking action to “turn pro” in many ways.

In talking about Resistance, those times when moving forward seems especially tough for all kinds of reasons, Pressfield uses a football analogy:

When you’re up against that kind of Resistance, there’s no shame in taking what the defense will give you. In football terms, we shut that part of the playbook that contains the deep “go” routes and the 55-yard bombs. We turn instead to that section that has the short slants and the three-yard dinks into the flat.

Take what you can get and stay patient.

The defense may crack late in the game.

I love football. I love the strategy, I love that each position on the team has certain rules they have to abide by. If I could explain how much strategy is involved and how much it’s like chess, maybe I could convince my nerdier friends how awesome it is.

So this analogy means a lot to me. I’ve watched games where the opposing team makes a huge play, like running a punt back for a touchdown. And I’ve seen teams fold under the pressure such a change in momentum brings.

But I’ve also seen teams that simply put their helmets on, jogged back on the field and set to work taking every yard the defense would give them. It doesn’t always work, but sometimes you chip away and wear a team down, and magic happens.

Sometimes it doesn’t work, the other team is just better that day.

But here’s what I know, if the defense (the Resistance) is particularly tough that day and you fold up under the pressure, you literally will not win. And quitting can become a habit much more easily than chipping away day after day.