Success is Not about Willpower

Peter Shallard says that the currency of Human Potential is willpower.  Willpower is a finite asset.  It is like a budget that you can choose to spend as you like – but (unlike EU nations) this budget must balance.

I disagree.

No amount of willpower is strong enough to overcome our unconscious impulses.  No amount of willpower alone can create strong, healthy, disciplined habits in my life.

It is not about willpower.

It is about gaming your environment so that the decisions in the margins lead to the positive choices.

A diet succeeds or fails in the supermarket.  Once the chocolate is in my house, I will eventually eat it.

Design your Environment

If I put my running shoes on first thing in the morning, I am more likely to take the decision to run.

If I leave a pen and open notebook on my desk, I am more likely to note down ideas, tasks, people to thank, quotes.

If I leave my email program open, I am more likely to check it regularly.

If I leave my mobile next to my bed, I am more likely to check email first thing before I get out of bed.  (I saw somewhere that 65% of people with blackberries check email before getting out of bed).

If I leave the remote control next to where I sit on the sofa, I am more likely to switch on the TV “just to have a quick look at what is on…” why not put it further away and put a book where your remote lives now?

If I program my mum’s phone into my speed-dial, I am more likely to call my mum.

How do you game your environment?  Do you feel that you have no willpower?  Maybe you have an environment that encourages the wrong actions?

Author: Conor Neill

Hi, I’m Conor Neill, an Entrepreneur and Teacher at IESE Business School. I speak about Moving People to Action.

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