Resistance mechanism no 4: someone else has already done it

Aga Szóstek
Jan 2, 2017 · 3 min read

In his newest book “The knowledge” Steven Pressfield tells a story about Peter, a musician composing the ultimate album of his life. After months of working on it, he realizes that at least three other bands are doing something that deceptively resembles his own idea. It is a phenomenon known to researchers as well. Once you run your cool project that was supposed to make you famous and lead to whatever prize there is at the end, you start finding out some recent publications that seem exactly like the one you are just working on. Dan Kahneman calls it the availability heuristics — this phenomenon each of us must have encountered after purchasing a new car, bike, dress: Once you obtain this particular item of desire, suddenly you notice so many others poses it as well.

This mechanism is particularly treacherous. Whenever you embark on a new venture there seems to always be someone in your proximity who says: — I’ve seen something similar recently. I heard of someone working of the very same project. They intend well. But they do the damage, sometimes irreversible. They give you an excuse to stop before you started. To quit and be at peace with it. Because what is the point to do the same thing another is already doing? She was the first one, she should have the priority. Who am I to think I could deliver value? Is there value to deliver in the first place? Maybe I should focus on the next project, beat all the others to the punch. And before you notice, you are off the hook. You can go for a walk, watch the telly, drink another bottle of wine, telling the story of how you really were so close to be the first one this time.

All Resistance needs to do this time is to pick on your insecurities, on the deep voice deep down telling you that you are not good enough. That you have nothing original to offer. That whatever you do is not going to resonate. That you have no chance but to quit before wasting more time and energy. Sometimes this voice comes from your parents who with the best of intentions thought that telling you that you are no good will motivate you to be ever better. It may come from your teachers punishing you for being out of line, not quite fitting, not enough following the program. It can also come from your partner who would rather have you to keep on being a predictable cog in the machine delivering the bread to the table like you always do. Or from your friends unhappy for loosing a partner in whatever thing you do together.

You keep on hearing these voices. Keep on listening to them. Keep on believing that what they say is true. How very interesting, right? Why do you listen to them rather than believing that your unique experience and thought can bring something valuable? What if, instead, you said to yourself: — Someone else is doing a similar thing? This is the best thing that could happen. It means that there is demand on what I was dreaming about. It increases my chances. Let’s work harder. Let’s do it.

Other stories about my battles with Resistance:

Resistance mechanism no 8: living another life

Resistance mechanism no 7: validation and success

Resistance mechanism no 6: I will do it tomorrow

Resistance mechanism no 5: no one will want it

Resistance mechanism no 3: helping others instead of doing your work

Resistance mechanism no 2: being busy with the small stuff

Resistance mechanism no 1: the dream about the next (better) project

Aga Szóstek

Written by,, strategic designer, experience designer, altmba4 alumni