I’m ashamed it has taken me so long to recommend one of my all-time favorite books, The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles, by Steven Pressfield.
The title is clearly a play on The Art of War, by Sun Tzu, and it is a highly appropriate title. The “enemy,” in this case, is RESISTANCE. That is, anything that keeps us from doing our work. While Pressfield’s chosen work is writing, the principles he outlines apply just as well to anything from running a marathon, starting a business, starting a diet, or anything else that requires attention and commitment. In my world, his principles apply to any organization wishing to improve their customer service.
Here’s the key line at the beginning of the book: “Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands Resistance.” That line can apply to any endeavor we want to do (or even were meant to do) and what actually gets done. The gap between the two reflects the resistance succumbed to when faced with actually doing the work.
Here’s another quote that got my juices going: “Never forget: This very moment, we can change our lives. There never was a moment, and never will be, when we are without the power to alter our destiny. This second, we can turn the tables on Resistance. This second, we can sit down and do our work.” (Italics are mine).
Resistance is one of the main reasons companies abandon one customer service initiative after another. When the planning is done, when the meetings are over, we have to sit down and do our work to actually implement the plan. Like the writer staring at the blank page, we become easily distracted by other “urgent” matters and never get around to doing the thing that really matters. Changing an organization takes commitment and a willingness to battle resistance on many fronts – from ourselves, our employees, our bosses, and even from our customers.
For every excuse about why an organization can’t implement this or that strategy, there’s another company who “slayed the resistance dragon” and got the work done and is better for it.
Please, please, do yourself a favor and get the book. After you’ve read it, which I’ll bet you’ll read in one sitting, send me a note with your thoughts. I’d love to hear what The War of Art inspired within you. One of my hopes is, of course, that it inspires you to beat resistance in applying the customer service principles in the new edition of my book, Unleashing Excellence: The Complete Guide to Ultimate Customer Service. Shameless plug I know, but Unleashing Excellence really does provide you with the tools to break through the resistance you’ll face in improving your organization’s customer service.