Part 1 Facts and cases on will
Chp. 1: Where is the will located?
Chp. 2: The will is a muscle that needs to be exercised
Chp. 3: Straining the muscle of will
Chp. 4: The will 100
Chp. 5: Put your will to the test
Chp. 6: Your will supports your competences
Part 2 Will training
Chp. 7: Will training requires a healthy heart
Chp. 8: Self-knowledge is the road to change
Chp. 9: The form curve of will – personal training
Chp. 10: Training the four basic elements
Chp. 11: The will under pressure
Chp. 12: Will training for children and young people
Chp. 13: A united will – team will
Chp. 14: Future sports management
Chp. 15: Culture forms the will
Chp. 16: Culture producers in organisations
I want to stop smoking; I want to run a marathon; I want to become a top salesman in my firm; I want to lose 10 kilos; I want to play for FC Barcelona; I want to learn Japanese; I want to be the world’s best tennis player; I want, I want, I want …
For more than 30 years I’ve been helping people optimise their performance to reach their goals and fulfil their dreams. A lot of them have been top-class athletes. I have worked with 24 different branches of sports and 127 teams, clubs, organisations and a great number of top athletes in 13 countries. In addition, I have worked with a lot of families and companies.
On the whole, 30 years’ practice has provided me with an extensive catalogue of experience of people who wish to do something with their lives and it’s these experiences I hope might inspire you; and that’s the reason why I have written this book.
I have chosen to call the book “Train your will” because will, in my experience, is the key to change and progress. No matter the number of talents you posses, if you don’t have the will to utilise your potential – well, then you won’t get anywhere.
In sports it is obvious who has the requisite willpower and who doesn’t, because we are able to rate performances in gold medals, national team selections and world records. But athletes are not the only ones who need greater willpower to perform their best, we all do, regardless of how old we are, our profession, interests, wishes and goals in life.
For different reasons, some people have easy access to their will; they have often spent more time and energy locating it, or conditions of life have forced them to strengthen it. But anyone can strengthen their will, and it is both vital and useful in many aspects of life.
When you train your will, you improve your mental strength, and as your will grows, you find yourself becoming braver and more self-confident.
A strong will makes it easier to get rid of bad habits and undesirable attitudes and behaviour that are blocking your way to a better life.
Therefore, willpower is an end itself and a means for achieving your goals.
Discipline and exercises that strengthen your will
Self-control is the ability to control or reject unnecessary or detrimental impulses. It’s the ability to arrive at a decision and follow it with perseverance to its successful fulfilment. It’s the inner power that overcomes inclinations to indulge in redundant and useless habits and the inner strength that overcomes emotional and mental resistance to act on impulsive. It’s one of the corner stones of success, both spiritual and material, and therefore one in a number of required mental skills to develop and exercise willpower.
Self-discipline goes hand in hand with willpower. Self-discipline endows you with stamina and perseverance in whatever you have to do. It enables you to fight temptation and overcome challenges – physical, emotional or intellectual. It enables you to reject immediate satisfaction in order to achieve something better which requires greater effort and takes more time. When you are consistent and self-disciplined you will improve your willpower.
Here are a number of exercises that strengthen your self-discipline and self-control:
- 1. When you’re grocery shopping, try helping others carry their groceries; hold the door for them; allow them to jump ahead of you in the queue. This is not an exercise in politeness, but in doing something you are generally reluctant to do. It’s an exercise in overcoming the resistance in your body, mind and emotions.
- 2. Dishes that need washing have been left in the sink. Normally, you would put off the task; occasionally until you’ve run out of clean mugs. Do the dishes NOW; don’t succumb to indolence, when you know that self-discipline improves your willpower. And it will be easier to do the things you have to do, when you’re convinced that willpower is important to your life.
- 3. You come home from work tired and usually sit down in front of the TV, because you feel too lazy and exhausted to take a shower, start dinner, talk to your children or do other tasks that require your physical presence, well – stop this behaviour. Don’t yield to the inclination to sit down in front of the TV; instead, start doing the things that require willpower.
- 4. When you know that your body needs exercise, do it; don’t sit down in front of the TV or the computer. Get up, go for a run, mow the lawn, play with your children, go for a walk with your wife or take the dog out.
- 5. Do you like sugar in your coffee? If you do, don’t add sugar to your coffee for a whole week. Prove to yourself that you are able to drink coffee without sugar for a week.
Do you drink a pot of coffee a day? If you do, restrict yourself to half a pot a day for a week. Prove to yourself that you can make do with half a pot.
- 6. When you feel like saying something that’s not really important, choose not to. Hold off from expressing your opinion, even when it’s very important to you – don’t.
- 7. If you’re used to watching TV or listening to the news four times a day, restrict yourself to two.
- 8. If you feel like eating something unwholesome, for the sake of your physical fitness, resist the temptation and skip it.
When you are in the process of building your will, try focusing on certain areas; this will increase your overall amount of will and boost each focus point. By directing your will to your physical fitness, for example, you enhance your physical willpower, but this does not strengthen your willpower in other areas, such as the emotional area, just as training your leg muscles doesn’t strengthen the muscles in your arms.
In other words, you may target a large amount of will to one specific area, but at the same time experience having less willpower in another area. Your total amount of will is 100 percent at any given time. This means that you have to train and enhance your will with care, because the brain’s self-regulation abilities are limited and, therefore, training your will in one context may even entail a retrograde step in other areas. The will has a limited capacity and can become exhausted and strained, like any other muscle in your body.
CASE: THE CHAIR
During a session I had recently with a young football team, the trainer told me that they had problems with a young player who often “lost his temper” on the field, to judges as well as teammates, when he didn’t perform the way he wanted to. During our first talk it became clear to me that he was likely to give up and play poorly when things were going badly for the team, and that he played well when they didn’t encounter a lot of resistance. My assessment was that he lacked brute strength: that is, inner as well as external will to withstand resistance.
At the end of the session I gave him this very simple task: Every day before dinner for the next 21 days he was going to stand on a chair and stay up there for 10 minutes!
He thought this sounded completely idiotic and he couldn’t see what good it would do him to stand there gaping. The exercise would not improve his physique, his muscles or ball techniques or provide him with new qualities he could make use of on the field. And he had all kinds of objections to the exercise – what if he was a guest in someone’s house or in a restaurant?
I explained to him that he HAD to do the exercise every day, no matter where he was or what was going on that day. I also told him that after 21 days, we would reconvene and I would put him in a trance and find out whether he had kept to our agreement.
He left the session with a shake of his head, but did agree to take up the challenge.
This young man was unable to see that this seemingly pointless task or any similar determined action that does not trigger a financial reward, praise or physical improvement could lead to personal development and a subsequent strengthening of his willpower.
Standing on the chair, a lot of thoughts were bound to pass through his head, for example: “Why am I standing here?”, “I might as well cheat, he can’t see me!” or “I’ll show him!”
No matter whether the thoughts that went through this young man’s head were positive or negative, he was in a situation where he couldn’t avoid thinking about his life, and that was the whole point of the exercise.
Performing the exercise each day for 21 days his willpower would have increased. If he didn’t keep to our agreement, I would be able to call his bluff and tell him that “if you can’t be bothered to complete this simple task in order to reach your goal to join the national team, then you’re not fit to play on the national team at all.”
Read more in the book…