If You Want Traction, You Must First Have Friction
I’ve been lucky to have a lot of great teachers.
Some have been from my generation, some have been younger, even, and others have been certified old timers.
One of those old timers, Art, was the first person to make meditation really make sense to me as a tool for training the mind. Sure, I knew it would calm me and “center” me, whatever that meant. But I mostly knew about the mainstream, watered down version of meditation that gets sold these days. “McMindfulness,” some have called it.
I never had much interest in that.
But I didn’t realize how powerful meditation can really be.
Or how simple.
Here’s how Art defined meditation:
“Meditation is just seeing what’s going on.”
Nothing more complicated than that. No visualizing, no chanting, no complicated mental acrobatics. Just seeing what’s going on.
Well, you try it. How long can you go “seeing what’s going on” before you slip back into thoughts spinning around, and emotions firing off?
Not so easy.
Which brings me to another of my favorite of his sayings:
“If you want traction, you must first have friction.”
Meaning, if you want to really transform yourself, especially in the realm of the mind, there’s going to be struggle. There’s going to be difficulty. And if you want to get to the place where it’s easy and it flows, you have to get through that hard part.
It’s true in anything. Starting out with a new type of workout, a new practice, playing a musical instrument, or just getting to a new level of mastery with anything — it’s going to cause friction.
You’re going to get frustrated.
You’re going to feel discouraged at times.
You’re going to feel disoriented for a while.
That’s just the way it is. But what I love so much about Art’s quote is how it frames that friction. It’s not just some cliche saying that says, “the good comes with the bad.” No. Neither traction or friction is good nor bad. They just are.
And it’s not just that the friction is an inevitable downside. It’s that the friction actually causes the traction.
It’s a necessary ingredient.
And knowing that, paradoxically, makes it way easier to deal with.
If you get frustrated or discouraged, instead of slowing down or giving up, you can recognize it for what it is. You can say, “Ah, yeah, this is just that friction necessary to get traction. It’s temporary. It’ll pass. As long as I just keep going, the next thing I know, it’ll be gone.”
And sure enough, it will be gone soon, as long as you don’t get caught up in it.
A huge part of mental toughness training is learning to stay relaxed, even within that friction.
And the most powerful way to do that is to train your nervous system to stay in a calm flow state, no matter what’s going on around you.
That’s what mental toughness training is all about.
It’ll make your life as frictionless as possible while you keep moving forward toward your goals.
I talk more about how to get into that frictionless flow state in my “Bionic Mind Manifesto.” You can get a free copy of it here: