It’s Saturday here in Australia and I’m about to head to an all day workshop run by my Yoga teacher. I do a Yoga class once a week, although it’s not like your normal Yoga, it’s more like an all-in-one spirituality, meditation and Yoga package. At the end of each lesson my teacher gives a little talk about a subject – sometimes it’s about a Yoga posture, other times he reveals interesting things like niyamas and yamas, the guiding principles that all yogis follow.
I really enjoy the talks because it’s very clear my instructor has a passion for what he does. He can ramble on about the Yoga practice and leading a yogic life the way I can ramble on about Internet business and blogging.
A few weeks ago one of the topics covered was willpower. Frequently I find many of lessons from the Yoga tradition have parallels with business, which makes complete sense given we are talking about life and we are all governed by the same universal rules.
The willpower discussion particularly grabbed my attention as relevant for people who are starting businesses and blogs. My Yoga teacher made a statement that some people have natural strong willpower and when they decide to do something they just do it. Others watch on and wonder how these people continue to achieve what they want, while they struggle to get anything done.
Isn’t that so true for blogging too. How many people begin writing a blog with good intentions and strong motivation, but a month later they are selling their blog or their posting frequency is down to one post a week. When instant results don’t come they are quickly discouraged.
A few select people seem to push past any set-backs and just keep working. In the business world it’s well known that two ingredients are critical for success – consistency and persistence. You must continue to do certain things over and over again and you can’t give up. If you don’t have the willpower to carry you through, you won’t stay to a course long enough to get rewards.
In each project I’ve had success with it’s because I had a mindless devotion to doing something. My very first successful website was built on the back of many hours spent playing with HTML, installing scripts and writing articles. My proofreading business BetterEdit was forged on countless trips to university campuses to put up posters (over three years I put up posters by hand at campuses in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Honolulu, Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal) and of course this blog exists today because I’ve spent fifteen years writing articles to it each and every week.
Phew…I’m starting to feel tired 🙂
While knowledge, experience and vision are important, I argue that the single most important ingredient for success in business – and for success in any aspect of life – is willpower. If you don’t have the follow through then you don’t get results. It’s as simple as that.
For some lucky individuals they are born with strong willpower. Others are imbued with willpower because of upbringing and life experience. For many people – many people reading this article – there is a lack of willpower. The core reason why you are not achieving what you desire is a lack of the inner drive to get things done and follow a certain path for long enough.
Thankfully, as with many things in life, simply becoming aware of the problem helps to eliminate it. The minute you establish a full awareness that your lack of willpower is holding you back, you instantly gain more willpower. It may still not be enough to carry you through to your goals, but it is a start.
People claim that fear is the root cause why you don’t achieve what you desire. I think that’s a fair justification – fear has stopped me many times in my life.
Courage is considered the opposite of fear, but I believe willpower really is a more apt polarity. Willpower fuels courage. With the willpower to follow through you break through fear barriers.
I’m no expert on the subject of building willpower but I do know in my life I’ve followed through because the alternative is a lot worse. I dislike the taste of failure, stagnation and indecision a lot more than putting in the effort to get things done and breaking past fear barriers.
Neither path is comfortable, but it’s clear that one direction – following through – leads to positive experiences eventually, while holding yourself back tends to perpetuate the discomfort. Understanding that discomfort is temporary when you work to get things done boosts your willpower.
If you are wondering why you never seem to earn the rewards you are after or you are going through a low period and feeling like throwing in the towel, call on your willpower and just keep working. Sometimes it is more important to have a mindless devotion to a cause regardless of the reality of situation in order to get what you want. Build up your willpower and you will become one of those people who simply choose to do things and then go and do them.