How does one achieve success through self-discipline and willpower? Robin Sharma shares a few keys
I’ve been longing to write this piece for you. Why? Because learning the latest science + methods to improve your willpower is one of the best ways to create immense success. At the base of all legendary performance in business, sports, music, relationships and life lies a strong character—born from well-practised self-control. Study Kobe Bryant and Roger Federer. Gandhi and Zuckerberg. Darwin to Gaga. They all rose to where they are via the vehicle of inner strength.
You see it takes self-discipline to:
–put in the 10 years of practice research like Anders Ericsson’s, has taught us is the minimal amount of training time needed before genius-level performances begin to present themselves.
–make the sacrifices needed to be made to get epic results. You can play video games for hours each day or become the undisputed master of your craft. But you can’t do both.
–to be relentless and display the grit needed to stay in the game and remain loyal to your vision long after the initial inspiration has vanished.
–keep learning each day, iterating your moves and optimising your performance.
–remain focused, centred and devoted in the face of the inevitable ridicule and laughter that your aim for iconic will generate. People residing within The Cult of Average don’t like to see others rise. It threatens their security. And spotlights their low self-worth.
As well, it’s my humble observation that we live in a world that doesn’t value the development of willpower so much. We revere the over-selfied TV stars and pedestal the viral video ‘fails’. But…
…the craftsperson quietly making art in her studio gets no due.
…the startup entrepreneur who gave up his luxuries to launch the dream is considered crazy.
…the mother or father who resists many social obligations to spend peak-quality time with their children is called an outlier.
…the manager who awakes at 5 am to run their morning ritual so they fly at work is labelled an eccentric.
Society invites us to pursue instant pleasure + fast bursts of joy + quick hits of feeling good. But as you know if you’ve been following my work for a while: To have the results only 5 per cent have, you have to do what only 5 per cent are willing to do. And high on the list is the pursuit of self-discipline. So here are some of the keys to help you to install world-class willpower:
#1. Please know that self-control has been found to be a lot like a muscle: the more you exercise it the stronger it grows. It’s pure myth that elite achievers are born with gifts you don’t have. And buying into that idea is a great way to avoid the discomfort of doing the work you need to do to enjoy the success you deserve to have.
#2. Research is also revealing that, every day, we draw willpower from the same reservoir. This means that checking your social notifications, watching the news, surfing the web and shopping online steals the self-discipline that could be used for developing a core skill, scaling your business, getting ultra-fit, nourishing a gorgeous family life or strengthening your internal world.
#3. As you exercise the muscle of your will by making decisions, taking actions and pursuing activities, your self-control ‘muscle’ depletes. One of the world’s foremost researchers in this field, Roy Baumeister calls this phenomenon ‘ego depletion’. This explains the behaviour of celebrities who have destroyed their careers by one foolish move: they used up so much of their self-discipline energy on their crafts/practising/performing that they had none left to wisely handle a temptation.
#4. By installing a daily routine to ensure ‘willpower renewal’, you’ll avoid ego depletion–and perform at your highest level. I suggest you schedule practices like visualisation, conversation, smart entertainment and even napping into your day to make that happen.
#5. By pushing yourself to do what’s important but not easy, your self-control reservoir will expand. The places where your discomfort lives are the places where your power lies.
#6. Science also confirms that when we are tired, under stress and depleted, we have low glucose in our systems. And low levels of glucose diminish our self-discipline. By eating low glycemic index foods like meat, vegetables and nuts, you’ll avoid that crash. And getting enough sleep also keeps your glucose levels where they should be. Sleep-deprived people don’t do beautiful work.
Hope all this helps. I know you have the capacity for your own form of greatness. I hope you’ll do whatever it takes to realise it.
Robin Sharma is a motivational speaker and globally celebrated author of 15 international bestselling books on Leadership. This article is his blog and is extracted from his website www.robinsharma.com.