Do not trust your will power
BUSINESS MATTERS BEYOND THE BOTTOM LINE - Francis J. Kong (The Philippine Star) - July 21, 2018 - 12:00am

I have read Malcolm Gladwell’s book “The Outliers.” I am a fan of Malcolm Gladwell and have had the privilege of interviewing him in New York a few years ago. Gladwell made his famous claim that in order to reach the mastery level of a Yitzhak Perlman or Yoyo Ma, they, together with a host of others masters of their craft must have more than 10,000 hours of practice.

Some people look at this and say, “That is impossible a task for me to accomplish.” Others start working on it. They rise and grind. They practiced like crazy, wanting to achieve 10,000 hours of practice. They muster their courage, develop their determination, and build their will power to complete their task of 10,000-hour practice so they can become experts and masters in their craft.

I am not too sure about this, but I certainly cannot muster enough will power to practice speaking for 10,000 hours. More in increments, perhaps, built over the many engagements I have had over the years. But one thing is certain; I cannot depend on will power alone. I depend on divine inspiration to remind me that I am on a mission, and I am doing this for a purpose bigger than me.

I have read up on some interesting information about will power.

Do you know that you can actually wear down your will power?

In a well-known 1996 research project led by Roy Baumeister at Case Western Reserve University, scientists had two groups of people sit down in a room. They were instructed to solve a simple puzzle.

One group was told they could eat their warm chocolate chip cookies in a bowl in front of them. They just have to resist the other bowl, which is full of radishes. The next group was told the opposite. They are to eat the radish and resist the cookies.  After the experiment, the researchers told the participants that they need to tabulate the results. The puzzle was not quite simple, and it could not be solved.  The scientists just wanted to see how each person behaved in order to solve it.

Can you guess what happened?

The people who had to eat the radishes and resist the cookies spent about eight minutes before they quit solving the puzzle. The people who ate the cookies tried an average of about 19 minutes. Why? It appears the will power is finite. We have a limited supply of it. People who ate the radishes and fought back the desire to eat the cookies had less will power because the supply was depleted. They didn’t want to do the puzzle. Those who ate the cookies had more supply and took twice as long to solve the puzzle. Therefore, will power alone is not a very dependable source to rely on for the long haul as it gets worn down. There are many other experiments in different forms that produce the same result.

Have you ever wondered why public people who have gained a considerable amount of fame and reputation succumb to the most stupid of temptation and are involved in scandals? Famous church personalities, show business people, politicians, or even entrepreneurs have formed a long list of names in the casualty list.

I have to be clear, though. I am not referring to those who have had a pattern of wrongdoing. These are the people who may have had 10,000 hours of practice in immorality and I am not talking about them.

I am pointing to good, well-meaning people who never premeditate or pre-plan to do wrong things and then succumb to temptation, get exposed to a scandal big enough to destroy their reputation, and damage what they have built over the years. Maybe because their will power is depleted; they lack the will power to resist temptation. They have very little left in the tank. This is by no means a justification for bad behavior, but it gives us a better understanding on how will power has limitations.

The same goes in spiritual life. Spiritual transformation happens within the person and causes behavioral changes. Behavior modification or image management depends on will power and does not last.  This explains why some people are regular church goers, but overtime their defective character has never been transformed into Christ-likeness. Genuine transformation should be from the inside.

In other words, will power is all about external behaviors, forcing actions and behaviors on people. Image management is all about PR and may or may not reflect reality.  Even in business organizations, this becomes evident. Real transformation needs to emanate from the inside not just “PR.”

(Culture of Personal Excellence is a one-day 10 a.m.-5 p.m. program that will happen on July 28, at Ybizz Incubator – a new co-working space located at the 27th floor of PBCom Tower in Makati. Limited seats available. For further inquiries contact April at +63928-559-1798 or register online at www.successoptionsinc/cpe)

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