An Essay on the Formidable Power of the Will
An Iron Will
Orison Swett Marden
This essay is the result of a fruitful and harmonious collaboration between Pauliina A. Waters and Cyril M. Adler. Most of the research for this essay must be attributed to the book An Iron Will by Orison Swett Marden. All other sources used in the production of this essay shall be found in the bibliography.
Willpower has been, and still is, probably the most fundamental source of human achievement. There has not be a single individual that has marked history that was not known for having an exceptionally well-developed willpower (Marden, 1901). The concept itself has quite a few different definitions but can generally be understood as the ability to make oneself do what they have to do, when it ought to be done, whether they like it or not. It is a not an innate talent but rather a learnt trait and we shall discover later how to train and use it to its limits.
The Many Virtues of Willpower
Possessing grit, or an iron will, and showing the world there is more to your making than wood and straw will offer you many advantages over most everyone, including the more talented but less resolute individuals. In fact irresolution is the worst of traits it is far more damageable even than irrationality as at he least he ho tries might sometimes hit his mark, but the one who stays still has no chance to ever hit anything. It is said that the shores of fortune are covered with the wrecks of man of brilliant ability but who have wanted courage, faith and decision, and have therefore perished in sight of more resolute but less capable adventurers who succeeded in making port (Marden, 1901).
Highly efficient individuals are sometimes asked how they work so much and manage to achieve so many things in so little time. The secret is not in fact an exceptional energy output but rather an unfathomable willpower allowing them to shape their energy and funnel it to a single point, their one true greater purpose. Continuity of purpose and laser focus of key objective is the best way to improve one’s productivity and the reach their true potential (Keller & Papasan, 2012). Most people have the energy required to successfully achieve greatness if they would only connect their efforts instead of losing and scattering their energy in a variety of different and superfluous tasks. Energy is rarely the problem, a minuscule amount of black powder in a rifle (willpower) to give it direction will accomplish more than a carload of powder burned into the open air (Marden, 1901).
The best way to avoid doing your work three times; once in anticipation, once in actuality and once in rumination, is to spend considerable time planning one’s action. It is said that if we only had ten years left to live, the best way to spend them would be to spend nine of them getting ready then spend the last year achieving one’s goal (Marden, 1901). Planning has two principal advantages the first one is to ensure that work is only done once in actuality when it ought to be done and the second is to slowly but steadfastly accumulate willpower and determination to be used in great occasions when it is absolutely necessary.
The education of the will is the object of our existence. True self-mastery is seldom attained and takes a tremendous amount of time and effort to slowly build up, but it is always worth infinitely more than the efforts put into developing it. Resolve is trained the same way one’s trains to run, to shoot or to swim, it is by using willpower regularly that it becomes easier and more commodious to use willpower. As in most thing in life when it comes to self-mastery only practice makes perfect (Tunikova, 2018).
The incentives for improvement are significant. He who masters his mind by the same only realises his true potential. This create a virtuous circle where the world starts to believe in a person that believes in herself. There is always room for a strong individual and he who can transpires self-believe and ability and thus wins confidence and is beloved. In other terms, one must act as to appear successful if he is to become successful (Marden, 1901). On the other hand the world has little use of the timid man, the one who is never certain of himself; who cannot rely on his own judgment, who craves advice from others, and is afraid to go ahead on his own account (Marden, 1901). No one will take the time, energy, and effort to insist upon your rights and worthiness when you yourself doubt that you have any.
Willpower in Everyday Life and Strengthening It
Willpower is something that has been in the human nature since the early days of human evolution, the self-control was a requirement to survive. Now, the difficulties people face are a bit difficult for the ancestors. Whether it is having the willpower to do the dishes, change a bad habit or anything from simple to hard things, one still needs the willpower to do the required tasks and to live. People sometimes tend to forget that willpower is something that runs in them: you need it in your everyday life. It might be difficult to use the possible willpower and how to nurture it. It can almost be categorized as one of the soft skills or at least a way to improve one’s soft skills, therefore it should be developed and nurtured further.
There has been links that people who have greater willpower and self-control tend to be happier, healthier, have satisfactory relationships, and careers, and they usually manage stress and conflict better than the people who are lacking in willpower and self-control.
If the reader is wondering how to strengthen willpower, these simple and concrete steps from Catarina Lino’s article, The Psychology of Willpower: Training the Brain for Better Decisions(positivepsychology.com), are some aspects to consider when wanting to improve one’s willpower. The first task is to improve one’s self-awareness. One should think clearly about the choices they make, big or small, during the day, and maybe even keep track of them. This way it is easier to not get distracted and it is clearly a step towards greater willpower.
The second and third steps are related to one’s physical health: eating well and exercising. These two steps are a great challenge to many when using willpower since humans are easily tempted. Regarding exercise, we all know it is advised to use nature as an environment of the exercise and it is greatly beneficial in one’s life. Exercise along with a healthy diet is a sign of willpower and improving in these steps is a way to strengthen the willpower even more.
The final two steps of this article were meditation and relaxing. Both of these reduce stress and as mentioned before, people who have greater willpower, tend to manage stress better than others. Meditation, relaxation, self-awareness and self-control go hand in hand with willpower. Taking the time to contemplate one’s decisions and habits is a great start to power your will to the max.
To conclude we wanted to underline and highlight the distinction between self-confidence and complacency. Although they originate from the same core belief that one’s self is nearly invulnerable to externals influences and circumstances they differ greatly in their nature; complacency is a passive and obtuse state than condemn its beholder to ruin and oblivion, contrarily self-confidence is an active state allowing their partakers to have a run for true glory. We think the following quotation capture this idea marvelously.
“He who is silent is forgotten; he who does not advance falls back; he who stops is overwhelmed, distanced, crushed; he who ceases to become greater becomes smaller; he who leaves off gives up; the stationary is the beginning of the end, it precedes death; to live is to achieve, to will without ceasing.” – Unknown author
Keller, G. W., & Papasan, J. (2012). The ONE Thing. Austin: Bard Press.
Marden, O. S. (1901). An Iron Will. Gearhart: Watchmaker Publishing.
Tunikova, O. (2018, March 19). The Science of Willpower: How to Train Your Productivity Muscle.: @tunikova_k: Medium. Retrieved from Medium: https://medium.com/@tunikova_k/the-science-of-willpower-how-to-train-your-productivity-muscle-8b2738ce745b
Lino, C. (2020). The Psychology of Willpower: Training the Brain for Better Decisions. Retrieved from Medium: https://positivepsychology.com/psychology-of-willpower/