Temperance, discipline, mental toughness, self-control... whatever synonym that you want to use, willpower is the foundation of success. You can write the most inspirational goals, detail out a plan, and have all the desire in the world but without discipline you will just have words on a paper. This is why willpower comes first, because without this virtue none of the others will be improved.
7 Days of Willpower...
DAY 1) "Every leader must walk a fine line."
Mental toughness and self control are not just about pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and enduring pain for gain but also about controlling your emotions.
Emotional control can be measured by how quickly you bounce back from a setback. Also by our ability to exercise control when negative emotions occur. We need to turn a negative emotion into a positive one, then turn that positive emotion into action.
This weekend I caught myself getting angry. Rather than letting the actions of another negatively affect me, I should have flipped that anger into grace and respect toward the individual whose actions I found to be... less that virtuous. Not only was that an opportunity to exercise willpower, but it was an opportunity to influence others by showing (by way of action) what real character looks like. I missed that opportunity... lesson learned.
"A good example is the best sermon."
Daily Activity: 100 push ups. 100 pull-ups.
DAY 2) "It takes discipline to focus on high-value targets instead of giving into the temptation of the low-hanging fruit that life serves up daily."
Today, I knocked out a 5.5 mile run. Half way through the run, I turned off the music so that I could focus on controlling my thoughts. The pace wasn't great but my thoughts were. At about 4 miles I hit my wall. I found myself zoning out and focusing deep on my vision and my purpose.
Controlling your thoughts is a huge part of self-control and willpower. If you can control your focus and stay zoned in on your vision and what you are looking to accomplish everything else will fall into place. It is important that to maintain a laser focus on the daily disciplines that are essential to dominating in your role.
Daily Activity: 5.5 mile run
Day 3) "Life begins at the end of your comfort zone."
I am blessed with the opportunity to coach a great group of youth athletes in the greatest sport on earth - wrestling. Why is wrestling the greatest sport?
Wrestling is the ultimate equal opportunity provider. If you want to give a kid an equal opportunity for success forget about participation trophies and non competitive environments. Wrestling is the one sport where kids of all shapes and sizes can be successful. You can be small and uncoordinated, or athletic and untalented. No matter, if you put in the time to learn the technique, seek out the best competition and coaching,and never ever quit... then there is no limit to what you can accomplish.
The key key is having the willpower to push yourself beyond your comfort zone. You have to work long and hard to get to your breaking point. And in that moment, the one decision you make will determine the strength of will. Do you crumble and ease up or do you push on and grow?
"When you think you have nothing left to give, you are only 40% of the way there."
Activity Log: 100 sit-ups, 100 push-ups, 101 pull-ups
Day 4) Control your environment.
This week I decided to stop listening to and watching non educational media all together. No news or TV, no radio. I find that they do not have much in the way of positive influence to offer. We need to better job of controlling our environment so I can have stronger self-control and turn that self control into willpower.
Also, be selective of who you surround yourself with. The saying "You are who you hang out with" has some truth to it. To be a champion, hang around champions. If you want to be successful, hang out with successful people. To be influential, hang out with influential people.
Activity Log:106 pull-ups
Day 5) "It takes 21 days to create a habit."
If you have a bad habit then replace it with a good one. Do that good habit for 21 days then you have a new habit.
Activity Log: 3.3 mile run
Day 6) Never ever quit!!!
Failure is only possible if you quit. My notes are getting shorter but perfection is not the goal, constant growth is.
I am listening to my audio books every day on the subject of willpower. I am learning new ideas and strategies to strengthen it. I am putting these ideas into action. Day by day in every way I am getting better and better.
"Dripping water hollows out stone, not by force but by persistence."
Activity Log:100 sit ups
Day 7) Reflect
This week I have definitely improved the virtue of willpower and self control. I have pushed myself in workouts, eliminated bad habits, and identified some actions that were not in line with the virtue that otherwise would have gone unchecked.
I have read a lot of books on Willpower. I study NAVY Seals a lot because I think that they are the best examples that I know of mental toughness and willpower. Books like Warrior Elite, Extreme Ownership and books/movies like American Sniper and Lone Survivor. I have read psychology books on Willpower. The book Willpower which is the scientific study of the psychology of willpower. This book had a lot of good information I don't like psychologists making excuses for people with low will power. Anther good one is Grit which is another study of the psychology of hard work and stick-to-it-ness. Another book I want to read is Grinding It Out by the founder of McDonalds Ray Kroc. The movie The Founder was phenomenal as well.
The journey continues...