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What is willpower? Why is it that some seem to have more willpower than others?

I want to venture forward a definition of willpower, and by doing so I'm going to take some of the "oomph" out of willpower. It's not some magical or genetic material more present in some people than in others.

My definition: Willpower is a decision and a desire to change.

Break it apart. "Will" implies a decision and commitment. "Power" is the energy put behind the decision. For those who lack willpower, they either haven't made a decision to change, of if they are convinced that there should be change, they don't stay mindful of the need for change.

Therefore, those who seem to have a lot of willpower are those who are unafraid to make a decision to change and who hunger enough for that change to see it through day by day. That's it.

Willpower is self-centered. I don't mean that it's selfish. I mean that it applies to the self. I can try and convince others to join me in my thinking, but that's persuasion, not willpower. Willpower is what I decide for myself and what I put into it. My willpower won't change anyone. It can only change me.

If I convince others through persuasion to join me in change, then they have to apply that desire to change to themselves. I can encourage them, but it's best if they believe in it as I do. If I lead by example, that helps. "Be the change that I seek in the world," as Gandhi says.

But I can't change others. Nor should I want to, because then it's only artificial and only lasts as long as my negative persuasion or positive persuasion lasts. I might be able to show them the benefit of the change, but ultimately it's something that they have to want for themselves. I can't change others. They can only change themselves.

Trying to change someone is wasted energy. It's generally resented. It's regarded as control. But I'm never in control of anyone else. I only control myself.

Willpower is a beautiful gift. I can change myself. It can energize me and spawn change in others by my example.

Control of others is ugly. I can't change others permanently. It's a waste of time and hurts people.

Just thinking out loud...


by Brett Rogers, 7/23/2006 9:54:54 PM


After reading this, I went to and looked up what it had to say about willpower:

The strength of will to carry out one's decisions, wishes, or plans.

A person needs to have the strength or "power" to make their dreams come true. I agree, for the most part, what you are saying. I think what your definition lacks is "strength". You can have desire and make the decision to change, but also need the strength to continue to press forward, despite obstacles that you may come across. I agree too that no one can be your willpower or give it to you. You have to find it within yourself.
Good points!



Posted by Anonymous, 7/24/2006 12:36:25 AM

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