Posted on October 3rd, 2012 by Colin and is posted in Interviews
Welcome to this next interview in the “Meet the Experts” series. I recently interviewed one of my heroes, Nick Williams - http://www.inspired-entrepreneur.com
Nick has spent the last 15 years helping to illuminate the world of work. He’s the author of seven bestselling books, including the one that we’re going to talk about today in this interview. Nick’s passion is to help people become more fulfilled in the work that they do.
I’ve been following Nick since I purchased one of his bestsellers, “The Work That We Were Born to Do” in 2004. I’ve also attended a number of his workshops in London over the years, so as you can gather I’m was pretty pumped about doing this interview.
What You’ll Learn:
- What resistance is
- The catalytic events that woke Nick up to his resistance
- The different ways resistance might be showing up in your life
- What purpose resistance seeks to serve
- Five strategies you can use to bust through your resistance
Enjoy this inspiring interview and if you like it, please “like,” “tweet” and “+1″ it! Help spread the word beautiful people!
Your inspiration. My passion.
P.S. If you have any comments or questions for Nick, please leave them in the comments box below.
P.P.S. You can watch, read and download the interview onto your MP3 player. I’ve got your learning style covered!
(The video takes about 30 seconds to download, so be patient. You can download the audio by clicking on the icon below the video)
Colin: Welcome, Nick!
Nick Williams: My pleasure. Thank you for inviting me. It’s always a joy to talk about these things and have conversations, so thank you.
Colin: Thank you. How are you today?
Nick: I’m a bit croaky! I’m just getting over a chest infection, but generally in a good space. I’m just celebrating 13 years since the first book came out. It feels like another lifetime of being an author now, so yeah, I’m feeling a bit proud of myself.
Colin: I’ll drink to that with a sip of my tea. There we go!
Nick: Cheers. People say books change their life. Many books have changed my life, but writing books has obviously changed my life, as well.
Colin: I’d like to talk to you about that. Why don’t we just start out, so that the listener can understand a little bit about you and your background? Why don’t you talk to us a little bit about Inspired Entrepreneur and what its about.
Nick: I think I’ve been, for a long time, about reimagining work and what work can be. For the last 20 years, after I left my corporate career, I’ve been running my own business. I think it’s so different to run a business doing what’s your vocation and what’s your purpose than it is to run a business purely to make money.
Nick: The whole idea of Inspired Entrepreneur is…how do you build a business around your vocation? How do you put the love first and then get paid for doing what you love? Really, that’s the bottom line of it. Because so many of us have been brought up to think, well, we work for money. We don’t work for love. We find a bit of love in what we do that’s a bonus. But really, we only work because we have to, because we need the money.
So Inspired Entrepreneur is…it’s a community. It’s become more of a global community to support people who are really finding what they were born to do, and then creating successful businesses around it. We have a community in London where people come along several times a month and meet each other. We support them and help them show up in the world as the best they are.
Me and my business partner Nick helps them build their online presence, so they can reach the people that they need to reach. Really, it’s a great place for people and their potential. What I’m up to in the world, I think, really, is helping people unwrap themselves and their gifts. That’s what really juices me up.
Twenty years ago I was in a corporate job, feeling so diminished. Today I feel like I’m really being who I am. I just think the world needs all of us to show up with who we are and what we’ve got. If we did that, the world would be transformed. At the heart of all of my work is just helping people really show up in the world as who they really are, and with their gifts.
Colin: Was there a catalytic event for you that woke you up to…it’s time for you to step up and step out, as you were going along your journey, Nick?
Nick: Yeah. Well, I’ve had a couple of what I call “road to Damascus” moments, where I thought, something’s got to give here. Both of them were while I was still kind of in the corporate world. I had three corporate jobs before I started my own business.
By the way, they were all in sales and marketing. Once, I’d won a trip to Antigua as a sales incentive. There I was in paradise on the beach with a Red Stripe in my hand but actually feeling like I was in hell, thinking what I’d had to do to get here, you know?
I’ve had to compromise my self so much. I’ve had to go against my own grain. I’ve had to stress myself out so much, and I’m not enjoying the success.
So that was a kind of pivotal moment, when I thought, I’m in paradise but I’m in hell at the same time, so something needs to shift here. I know it was my attitude that needed to shift. Then in my last corporate job, I used to work in Holborn in London a place called Enterprise House.
Nick: I just used to get out of the office as much as I could do, because I just couldn’t stand being there any more. I used to go for a walk down an embankment in London, Embankment Gardens. I was walking along one day in my cashmere jacket and my suit and everything, and I heard this voice say, “Oi, cheer up, mate.” I turned around, and there was this homeless guy sitting on the park bench, telling me to cheer up.
Nick: I thought, “Hang on. There’s something wrong here.” On one level, I’m living an abundant life, because I’ve got a nice car and a nice job, and I’m living in Fulham. Materially, I was doing OK.
But in terms of my own happiness and my own sense of purpose, I was very poor. So those were kind of pivotal moments where I just thought, I’ve got to do something about this.
Colin: Well, perfect. Maybe as a context then, linking from what you’ve just been talking about, your journey…I’ve just finished a poll on Midlife Maverick where I wanted to find out what the number one inner block is. Over the years of coaching thousands of people, there’s been three that have sort of risen to the surface, as a generalization.
That is…I don’t know what I want, a lack of clarity; I know what I want, but I’m scared to go out and get it…fear and doubt; and money…money issues…I don’t have enough or I love the life that I’ve got. It’s a fantastic lifestyle. How do I follow my passion?
I just finished the poll yesterday. So, 222 people filled it out, and the winner, by far, getting almost 50% of the votes is clarity, you know, “I really don’t know what I want.” Second was money…money issues. Third was the fear piece. They were very close…57 votes versus 60 votes.
I think this is sort of a perfect lead in to this book, which I say is, I think, my favorite that I’ve read, “Resisting Your Soul,” because these blocks are all things that sit inside us, and how we resist.
So I’d love to have you talk through this book and your journey. Why don’t we start with…where did the idea of this come from? What inspired you to write this book?
Nick: Well, I started awakening to my own sense of inspiration probably about 25 years ago. I kind of got to the point where I said to myself, “I’ve not been put on this planet to sell computers to Japanese banks.” I had got to that level of clarity.
But obviously, then, the bigger question as your poll in a way says is…well, what do I want then? You know, what am I about if I’m not about selling computers to banks? So I just began to ask myself bigger questions. Nobody ever asked me growing up or at school, “So, what would inspire you, Nick? What’s in your heart to do? What do you want to do?”
I began to trust and follow my own sense of inspiration. But I noticed that I didn’t always follow through on what I was inspired to do. I’d often edit it or talk myself out of it or stuff. I really have been aware of that.
As I’ve travelled the world more and reached more people and had more conversations, I began to realize this is quite a universal thing, really. We don’t do what we know we’re here to do.
On one level that shows up as things like procrastination and keeping ourselves busy and distracted. But I’ve also noticed that when people really step up into their purpose and what they’re really here for, they often, to be honest, really give themselves a hard time and attack themselves and say, “Who am I to be doing any of this stuff? Who do I think I am?”
There I’ve come to express it as…all of us have the capacity to be truly inspired to set ourselves on fire…potentially set a bit of the world on fire. The way I’ve come to describe it is inspiration has an evil twin.
That evil twin is what I know call “resistance.” Resistance is the way that we stop ourselves, undermine ourselves, and sabotage ourselves. To be honest, sometimes just downright attack ourselves and be really horrible to ourselves…just stop ourselves being who we really are and contributing what we really have to contribute.
That’s why I wrote that book, because I felt like at many times in my life I’ve been a gold medallist in resistance myself. Everything that I’ve done that’s been significant…writing books, speaking, coaching, broadcasting…everything that I’ve done, I’ve had to encounter a level of resistance, whether that’s mild to reasonably severe and sometimes, to be honest, chronic, where I feel like I’m just never going to get through this, I’m just so scared. I’m just so down on myself, whatever.
I just wanted to share what I’d learned and help people understand this dynamic, because we need to get beyond it, because the world needs us and what we’ve got. I think the biggest thing that stops us being who we are and achieving our potential isn’t some of those things that you mentioned. It’s really just this idea of resistance. It’s that that stops us being who we are.
Colin: To help the listener, what would be some of the common ways that resistance manifests itself? Because, as you say, it’s a sneaky little critter that can appear in not so obvious ways. What would be some of the ways that it might show up?
Nick: Well, I’ve mentioned a couple like procrastination and keeping ourselves busy. They’re great ones. Your poll touches on it, perhaps to some extent, like wanting absolute perfect clarity before we move forward I’ve got to get all my ducks in a row. I’ve got to get a perfect plan together. I’ve got to see how it’s all going to fit together. Then I’ll get going.
Colin: When I’ve got it all figured out, then I’ll get going.
Nick: Yeah. For some people…it’s being something like a perpetual student. That was one of mine for a number of years. I’ll just go to another workshop. I’ll just read a few more books. I’ll just get a bit more coaching from other people. Then I’ll start showing up and doing what I really feel called to do in the world.
Nick: I think hanging out with the wrong people sometimes. I said, “wrong people”…hanging out with people that are negative.
Nick: Sometimes we get inspired. We go and talk to people that are not going to get what we’re enthusiastic about, and they’re going to question us. We’re going to feel crushed and heartbroken. And then we go, “I can’t be bothered. I’m not going to do this any more.”
Even things like addictions. I’ve not myself been in a recovery programme, but I’ve known a number of people that have been on recovery programs. I can say they went into some kind of addiction, because they were afraid of things getting too good. You know, that something great was going to happen, and they couldn’t handle it, so they kind of went to a self implosion kind of thing.
Yeah, those are some of the big ways that I think resistance shows up. And just talking ourselves out of things. You know, having a brilliant idea, and then within 30 seconds just coming up with 10 reasons why we know it would never work.
Colin: Yeah, I don’t know for you, but for me, when listening to people talk and there’s a little word that sneaks in. It’s usually so below the radar, but it’s exactly what you’re talking about. They’ll start talking about a desire, something they really want. Something inspires them, and then the “but” word comes in, then the resistance comes in.
Yeah, I’d really love to start my own business, but I just don’t have enough money right now. That little “but” that you barely heard it…it was right, and then there’s the resistance. As your book shows, without the awareness, resistance is really the winner.
Nick: Yeah, and then everybody loses. We don’t get to show up in our life as much as we can do, so our life is diminished. Then my belief is that we’ve all got a contribution to make to other people’s lives. I think all of us are the answer to some people’s prayers. So when we don’t show up, other people suffer as well.
I don’t mean that to guilt trip people. I say that to inspire people to go, “Hey, we need to learn what resistance is, how to get beyond it, because the world needs us at our best, not at our worst and our smallest.”
Another thing I’d say, which I think kind of helps illuminate this for people, is…resistance is a secondary force. It’s not a primary force. Resistance doesn’t come out of nowhere. The way I’ve come to think of it is…I kind of borrowed this from somebody I know, a guy called Steven Pressfield. I don’t know if you’ve heard of him, but he wrote a book called “The War of Art.”
Colin: Fantastic book. Yes.
Nick: Very influential to me. I got to meet him a few years ago and interview him, which was great. My paraphrasing of his expression is that resistance is our ego’s petty and fearful response to magnificent creative impulses within our soul. What that says to me is…we’re inspired to do something great. That’s when the resistance kicks in.
Nick: That’s why I actually talk about resistance being a signpost, because often the things that we’re most resisting and we’re putting most energy into saying, “I can’t do this because of this, this, and this”…the fact that we’re putting so much energy into resistance means there is something great to resist.
The way I describe this to myself, and this is just my way of looking at it, is…I believe there’s a soul. Each of us is a soul. What our soul really wants to do is blossom and be its magnificent self.
Then we’ve got this sense of our self as being a separate personality. All of our resistance comes from our separate personality part of us that, to be honest, just seems to like running the show. Our ego would rather be king or queen of its own hell than to let us be in heaven.
Nick: It sounds mad, but I think that’s true. We’ll make ourselves suffer. We’ll be miserable. All sorts of things, just so that our ego can keep running the show.
Colin: Yeah, perfectly put. Would you say then that resistance has a purpose?
Nick: I’m hesitating, because I don’t want to give it more meaning than it has. The only purpose of understanding is to get beyond it. We can give it all sorts of meanings.
So, yeah, I suppose it has a purpose inasmuch as it’s a pointer to follow, to awaken to who we really are and to our magnificent potential. Yes, it has a purpose in that respect. But does it actually do any good at the end of the day? No.
Colin: No. And as you say…and you give examples in the book…you just said, “We don’t know we have it until we want to do something significant.” Only at that point does it show up, and without the awareness, often at that point as it shows up, we back down, and we shrink, and we run.
Nick: Yeah, so I think the resistance has always been with us. Sometimes resistance is just, “Well, I’m being sensible. I’m living a sensible life. I’m living the life I was programmed to live.” That can be true, and it can be a form of resistance.
Whenever we want to be more creative, we want to follow a sense of purpose, we want to follow any sense of a higher calling, that’s when the demons and dragons of resistance are likely to wake up and start going, “Who do you think you are? Get back in your box.”
I was born in Essex. I was born in Hornchurch in Essex. One of my big forms of resistance to start with was, “People from Essex don’t write books.”
Nick: I don’t know where that came from, but I just had this kind of story in my mind that Essex is not the home of literary success.
So our resistance will take anything to feed itself. In my mind, the truth is we’re an amazing soul. We can get beyond our resistance, but we have to understand it.
Nick: And not to kind of shame ourselves…often, I think shame can be a form of resistance. Especially with men, but also with women sometimes, it’s almost like we don’t want to even acknowledge our own resistance.
I’ve met so many people over the years who have said, “When I discover the work I was born to do, I’ll just go on and do it. I know I can be successful at it. I just haven’t found it yet.” There may be truth in that, but often I think that’s actually resistance! I’m a student of something called “A Course in Miracles.” I don’t know if you know “A Course in Miracles.”
Colin: I do.
Nick: It’s a book of mind training, of how we turn our mind to love to rather the fearful or guilty thoughts. One of the lines I love in “A Course in Miracles,” it says, “Your ego has a secret mantra. The secret mantra is…’seek but don’t find.’”
I think that’s often where resistance operates. We seek for years, but we’re actually afraid to find. It’s a great bit of awareness, to go…sometimes the seeking is actually a block to finding.
Colin: That’s very nicely put, yeah. When you left the corporate world to become a solo entrepreneur…now with the awareness you’ve got, what resistance did you have to overcome?
Nick: Everything in the book.
Nick: That’s why I could write such a good book, because I’ve done a lot of personal research. And a lot of family conditioning about who I am and I shouldn’t…my dad was a lay Methodist preacher.
I’m not sure that I got a lot of this from him, but I got it from somewhere…I should suffer. A lot of my resistance has been around “I should suffer.” So my resistance has actually been to more joy and more happiness and letting my life be really good.
I had some specific conditioning around that. Also, I had no entrepreneurial background. You know? Everybody I knew had worked for a living, had had a job. Sorry…not that being an entrepreneur isn’t working for a living but I’d been employed.
I had no map, so a lot of my resistance was about kind of following other people’s maps rather than listening to my own intuition and my own soul. Much more now…I’ve learned from other people, but I trust myself a lot more.
A lot of my own resistance was about not trusting myself. I guess I had a deep fear of…the more you show up in the world, the more you’re going to get attacked, the more people are going to take a pot shot at you and just kind of go, “Who do you think you are?” and all that stuff.
Again, what I’ve realized is…all of those fears that I had, most of them were in my own mind. I was already questioning…doubting…attacking myself. I didn’t need anybody out there to do it, really. They were just triggering what I was already doing inside me.
Colin: Yes. [laughs] What are some ways of overcoming resistance and ways that have worked well for you and maybe you’ve seen work really well for others?
Nick: There are a few major ones. I’ll share some of them with you now. Probably it’s one of the unsexiest ones, but I think it’s one of the most effective ones, is simply to take baby steps.
A lot of people listening to this might go, “Oh, give me something sexier than that…taking a baby step. Just doing something isn’t very good. That’s not going to change my whole life, is it?”
And, of course, one step is not going to change your whole life, but one step every day will change your whole life. You know that from your own life and your coaching practice. I’m a great believer that it’s not about making massive plans about the future. It’s about taking the step that’s in front of you right now.
I’ve had miraculous, amazing, wonderful things happen and still happening for me. Why? Because I’ve been willing to take baby steps. I use the analogy you don’t write a book. You write the first word. You write the first sentence. You write the first paragraph. You write the first page. You write the first chapter. You just take that step.
Nick: And that’s what I’ve done for the last 20 odd years, really…just take the step that’s in front of me. Sometimes I take that step and nothing seems to happen. Most of the time when I take a step, my world seems to open up in some way.
Either my mind opens up or I put myself out in the world in some way, like having this conversation…and then an opportunity comes my way because I’ve shown up in some way. So I’m a great believer in taking baby steps, because I think there’s a magic that happens when we take baby steps.
But most people go, “Well, show me the magic, and I’ll take the step.” Really it’s the other way around, which is you’ve got to take the step, and then the magic begins to happen. So that’s one.
Sometimes it’s just…I’m quite an emotional guy. For me, it’s sometimes just having the courage to do it. I’ve got plenty of stories…we’ve all got stories, excuses, all those kind of things, and sometimes we just need to bust ourselves and go, “You know what? I just need to do this. I just need to feel the fear and do it anyway. I just need to feel a bit of uncertainty, the guilt, the doubt, the unworthiness, and just take the next step.”
I’m a great believer in just having the willingness to feel things more than we felt them. And certainly my experience is when you are really following your heart, you will feel a lot more. Sometimes you’ll feel the really good stuff and sometimes you’ll feel the really painful stuff, but to me, it’s better to be alive and feeling everything than dead and feeling nothing…so be willing to feel things. Another one is…being a perpetual student is a form of resistance.
Nick: Sometimes we need to learn stuff to beat our resistance, so sometimes education is a great way of beating resistance. I’ll just give a quick little story. I’ve engaged with Twitter in the last few years, but I thought it could be a massive waste of time. I just got to meet and sat down and buy a coffee for an expert on Twitter and business, and in 20 minutes, he demystified Twitter for me, and I suddenly got it.
I saw a way forward, and I now use it. I spend 20 minutes a day and it’s really worth doing. Sometimes we just need the wisdom and expertise of somebody who’s gone ahead of us to teach us something so that we can bust through our resistance.
I’m also a great believer in accountability and mentors. Sometimes just saying to people, “Right, you’re going to do this by next week, and let’s speak again.” Just giving them that level of accountability busts through their resistance.
I think I’ve always been amazed, but I never cease to be amazed by how much sometimes just a word or two of encouragement, sometimes people believing in us just gets us through our resistance.
Nick: Sometimes saying to people, “You know, I think you can do this.” Sometimes they dissolve into tears because nobody has ever told them that they believed in them before. Sometimes just encouragement.
Probably the biggest one for me, and I suppose it comes from a more kind of spiritual place for me, is I came to a place a few years ago where I’m still pretty good at putting myself down on a bad day.
But I realized how richer my life was for all the people who’d shown up in my life and…I’d heard them speak or write, or I love their music, or they’ve just been friends. So I was getting feedback that what I was doing was making a difference in other people’s lives.
I think somewhere along the line, I just made a commitment to be of service to life. By busting my own resistance and by us busting our resistance, other people get the benefit. The paradox is we get the benefit. I can have a bad day and show up, and I feel better for showing up and making a difference. Then other people get the benefit of it too.
So just that willingness to say, “You know what? I would rather try and make somebody else happy than make myself unhappy” is a brilliant way through resistance. That’s probably the biggest way that I get through my resistance today…is just to say to myself, “I’d rather help somebody else than feel bad about myself.”
Colin: Perfect. I think that’s five great ways of overcoming resistance for the listener. So before we look up to what resources you had, I’ll add just one, which is being part of something like Inspired Entrepreneur, being part of a community of people that do support you, that do hold you accountable, that do put that little word in your ear just when you need it most.
It’s such an important point. You know, it’s…mastermind group, often they’re called to be part of a mastermind group.
Colin: I think it’s an essential part of our journeying, as we need to bust through our resistance. Often being part of a mastermind group can be the difference that makes the difference.
Nick: Yeah. I like at the African proverb. You’ve probably heard it. It says it takes a village to raise a child. I think it takes a community to raise an entrepreneur. We need each other.
Nick: There are just some thresholds we can’t cross on our own.
Colin: Yes. Very good. So let me end this then, with one last question. It’s a question that I ask every single person that I interview. It’s always interesting to see just where it takes those that I’m interviewing.
My question is, as you sit there today, Nick, is what’s becoming clearer to you?
Nick: Wow, what a great question. I’ll answer it in two parts. What’s becoming clearer to me is that the world is hungry for inspiration. Just look at things like the Olympics and the impact that inspiration has on people. The first one would be…the world is hungry for inspiration.
Secondly, I still find it hard to sum it up, but I know that I have a lot to contribute in that area. It’s becoming clearer to me that there’s a whole new chapter emerging from me to teach about inspiration and the power that we have to all be inspired…and what we can achieve and what impact we can have when we allow ourselves to be truly inspired.
Colin: Perfect. Thank you. Lastly, for the listener here, what can they do? What’s on your site? What do you recommend? What resources should they go to as they’re now inspired to find out a bit more about you or actually work on themselves?
Nick: There’s more free resources on my website than you can shake a stick at. Tons of great stuff there. There’s a programme, which I think you know about, which is a nine part programme about discovering the work you were born to do.
Nick: We’ve recently updated that, so it’s still available but the main free thing is…my sixth book was called, “The Business You Were Born to Create.” We’ve now put the digital version, the PDF version of that, as a free download so you can just go and download that and put it on your Kindle or read it on your computer.
There’s several other free programs. There’s a lot to engage on the free level, and then there’s lots of different ways of engaging with the Inspired Entrepreneur community. There’s three major levels at the moment and a couple more coming.
There’s a silver level where you can just join up and pay five pound a month and get the downloads of all the events that we have in London. Then with the premium level, which is about coming to the live events in London, one event per month.
And then there’s the community level, which is about 30 pound a month. To be honest, we’ve probably underpriced it, but for 30 odd pound a month, you can come to six events in London and not pay any money and be part of a community and get yourself loved and supported and encouraged and educated and inspired.
There’s those different ways of engaging with what we’re up to.
Colin: Fantastic. That says a lot about you, Nick…the type of person you are. It’s been fantastic being able to interview you as I’ve watched all these years as you’ve grown…
Colin: …and as you’ve busted your resistance, and continue to do so like us all. You’re a great positive role model for a lot of people. Thank you for your time today.
Nick: I really appreciate your time and this opportunity. Thank you very much indeed. I really appreciate it.
Colin: Bye for now.
Nick: Thanks. Bye.