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When There’s A Will There’s A Way

When there’s a will there’s a way

You know I was listening to all of the shenanigans in the US and thinking about how tragic it all is.

I love the US and NY is one of my favourite cities. I have visited over 100 times, worked there, ran marathons there and even got married there under Brooklyn Bridge.

Now, the story of Brooklyn bridge is very relevant to what I want to share today.

It’s 1883, an engineer named John Rambling came up with the idea of ​​building a bridge connecting New York and Long Island. Everyone said he was nuts and that it is impossible to build the bridge.

John Rambling and his son Washington decided to build the bridge, despite the insurmountable odd and opposition.

Everything was going well for the first few months until there was a tragic accident at the bridge and John was killed. His son Washington suffered such a traumatic shock and afterwards was unable to walk and talk. His body was destroyed.   

Yet Washington did not get discouraged even after the physical incapacity. He refused to accept that he could not finish his father’s dream.

While lying in his room in the hospital, he found a way to communicate with his wife which allowed him to tell his engineers what they should do by only a twitch of a hand.

The work resumed somehow, and for the next 13 years, Washington continued to give instructions by pointing his fingers. Eventually, the bridge was built in memory of his dad. 

What monument to his willpower.

This true story of the strength of strong willpower gives us the message that nothing is impossible.

In our daily life, we face many minor obstacles and problems. Instead of fighting them, we often sit quietly and give up.

To many, willpower is resisting temptation whether it is sweets, a cigarette, a clearance sale, food or achieving our New Year resolutions. Many of us have settled into our routines of “it’s ok but I wish I could be more.”

So, let’s take a quick peek into the brain to see where the magic of willpower happens and where wishes can become reality.

Inside our brains we will discover three friends that I call Scarab, Phoenix and Blaze.

They live inside our head in the prefrontal cortex which is a nice chunk of neural real estate right behind your forehead and eye. Our prefrontal cortex is not one unified blob of grey matter, it has three key regions.

The first region, the one near the upper left side specialises in the “I will” power. This is the one I call Phoenix. It helps you start and stick to boring, difficult, or stressful tasks, like staying on the treadmill when you’d rather hit the shower.

The right side, in contrast, handles the “I won’t” power. This one I call Scarab and it’s the power that is holding you back from following every impulse or craving. You know when you are tempted to read a text message while driving, but keep your eyes on the road instead? You can thank this region.

Together, these two areas control what we do.

The third region just a bit lower and in the middle of the prefrontal cortex, keeps track of our goals and our desires. It decides what we want.

This part of the prefrontal cortex remembers what we really want, even when another part of our brain is screaming, “Eat that! Drink that! Smoke that! Buy that! It’s ok to break the Covid rules!”.

These three areas  – I will, I won’t, I want – are our Willpower and they are part of the muscle that takes us to our dreams, that helps us fulfil our New Year resolutions or takes us to success. The more you train your 3 Willpower muscles the stronger your will to achieve gets.

People do not lack strength, they lack will.

Willpower isn’t something that gets handed out to some and not to others.

  • It is a skill you can develop through understanding and practice.
  • It’s not that some people have the willpower and some don’t.
  • It’s that some people are ready to work and build their willpower and others are not.

There is no great talent without great willpower. Technique and ability alone do not get you to the top. It is willpower that is the most important. This willpower you cannot buy with money or be given by others. It rises from you learning to tame, control and adapt my three friends Scarab, Phoenix and Blaze.

Just like a marathon runner who only develops muscles in one leg if he runs in circles, they will run in a continuous circle if they don’t know what they want and will always end up in the same spot.

So, it is my friends Scarab Phoenix and Blaze  – I will, I won’t, I want – that you must develop and build  equally. I will, I won’t, I want are the three amigos that fulfil dreams if you will only allow each of them to make a contribution.

Just like a marathon runner who only develops muscles in one leg if he runs in circles, they will run in a continuous circle if they don’t know what they want and will always end up in the same spot.

So, it is my friends Scarab, Phoenix and Blaze  – I will, I won’t, I want – that you must develop and build  equally. I will, I won’t, I want are the three amigos that fulfil dreams if you will only allow each of them to make a contribution.

The greatest discovery of all time is that you can change your future by merely changing your attitude. Your only limit is you.

It is the size of our willpower which determines our success.

THE MENTAL FILTER – Some tips to build willpower

    1. Don’t resist, just postpone
    2. Make sure your goal has an emotional component
    3. 10 minutes of daily meditation
    4. Work on your posture
    5. Keep a food diary
    6. Use your opposite hand
    7. Create and meet self-imposed deadlines
    8. Keep track of your spending
    9. Carry around something tempting
    10. Be more mindful of your automatic decisions

 

I can take you to success. I coach ordinary people every day to do extra-ordinary things. I coach extra-ordinary people to do extra-ordinary things. The difference is those who have a dream, and are prepared to follow said dream, are extraordinary, and just need a structure and support system to kick off that journey, which will finish with them sliding in fast sideways to the grave, totally worn out from the relentless living of their dreams, screaming out loudly “Wow holy sh*t, what a ride!”

If that is you – start today! If you are looking for coaching on change for yourself or your organisation, or would like more information on the work we do on Personal, Professional, or Organisational Change, please contact us on letstalk@mauriceduffy.com

About Dr Maurice Duffy

Irish. Author, Professor, Coach and Business strategist. The person Australian Captain Steve Smith credited with helping him back from his cricket ban. Coach to two Ashes wins. Coach to CEOs, Politicians and some of the best know international sports starts including Olympians. BBC ‘Thought for the Week’. Coached business leaders and organizations in 80 countries. Works with charities to do with Mental Health. Lives in North East England with his wife and 11-year-old son.