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How the Myth of “Limited Willpower” Is Hurting Your Productivity

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The Way You Think About Willpower is Hurting You. The idea of ego-depletion arose from a 1990 study done by psychologist Roy Braumeister at Case Western Reserve University. This study, which we’ll call into question here, has been cited over three hundred times.

In the study, researchers placed test subjects in a room with a plate of homemade cookies, a plate of radishes and an unsolvable puzzle. Each group was allowed to snack from only one plate while instructed to solve the puzzle.

The hypothesis was that the radish group would spend less time struggling with the puzzle because they would expend willpower needed to work on the puzzle on resisting the cookies.

According to the study’s findings, their hypothesis was confirmed. The radish-eating group spent only eight minutes working on the puzzle, whereas the cooking-eating group spent nineteen minutes.

The study concluded that the radish-eaters had experienced ego depletion because of additional use of will power used up by resisting the homemade cookies. But is that what really happened?

In 2011, researcher Braumeister and John Tierney wrote the best-selling book Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength, which explained the concept of ego depletion. The take home point was that sugar (glucose) restores willpower, self-control and stamina.

A Closer Look

But not everyone was so easily convinced. Upon replicating the study, other scientists determined that Baumeister’s conclusions about ego depletion were not accurate.

Willpower, they found, was not so limited as we thought.

Further research on the subject also did not come to Baumeister’s conclusion. Many scientists now doubt Baumeister’s theory of ego depletion.

Furthermore, the idea that sugar increases willpower has been discredited. Recent discoveries revealed that the brain uses the same number of calories regardless of the task at hand.

So, if sugar is the key to willpower, why are employers not providing their workers with endless sugary treats to increase productivity?

You Decide if Your Willpower is Limited

It is now accepted that the original theory of ego-depletion is untrue, and new explanations have arisen, giving a different explanation as to why we lack willpower in certain scenarios.

Carol Dweck, author of the popular book Mindset, recently found that people who believe that willpower can be depleted proved their belief to be right. Those who did not see willpower as having limits did not display ego depletion.

Dweck’s findings reinforced the concept that belief and behavior go hand in hand. Eating sugary foods makes us feel better for a while. This is a placebo effect that gives us the feeling that we can work a bit longer.

It should be noted that perpetuating the idea that willpower can be used up can do real harm. People who are taught this theory will quit when they think that their willpower is gone, rather than believing they simply need to believe their willpower is there for them whenever they need it.

“I have willpower and determination. I am very resilient, like rock.” – Carnie Wilson

How To Think About Your Own Willpower

This is an exciting time to be alive. If, in fact, we believe that we have the will to push through circumstance, we actually can. It turns out that the old aphorism “If there’s a will, there’s a way” has a kernel of truth.

The best way to think about willpower, then, is that it’s akin to emotion. In the same way that we don’t run out of joy, willpower fluctuates based on what is happening in our lives and how we feel about it.

In the same way that we can keep our emotions under control, willpower can be trained and managed using a variety of mental exercises. If mental energy operates like emotions, it can be managed with the use of self-control. When we need to stay on task, it is healthier to believe that a lack of motivation is merely temporary than to indulge ourselves in sugary foods.

Just as we take cues from our emotions, we should pay attention to what our willpower is telling us. When we experience a chronic lack of mental energy, we should be examining what we are forcing ourselves to spend time doing. If a job requires constant willpower to complete, maybe we are in the wrong job.

By the same token, when we enjoy our work and find it interesting and exciting, willpower does not need to be summonsed. We remain energetic without the artificial and temporary crutch of sugar or other stimulants. We do not put willpower to the test by fighting the temptation to divert our attention to entertainment.

Essentially, we give up on tasks that are not interesting to us. Spending time working on an unsolvable puzzle in a laboratory environment does not spur us on to greater accomplishments. Similarly, boring daily work requires willpower to keep us going.

A better plan is to listen to our struggling willpower telling us that the work at hand is not interesting or satisfying. Our emotions will line up with this message by telling us that there are no enjoyable, exciting feelings when doing the work.

“The achievements of willpower are almost beyond computation. Scarcely anything seems impossible to the man who can will strongly enough and long enough.” – Orison Swett Marden

Closing Thoughts

Calling on willpower until it is strained to the breaking point is a wake-up call that we should a close look at how we are spending our time.

Willpower is sending a harmonizing message to the miserable emotions we are feeling that something is just not right and we should either summons self-control to get the work done or decide it is time to find a different job.

What are some activities that require you to call on your willpower? Please leave a comment below as we would love to know!

Dan Fries is an entrepreneur and writer. He is the co-author of two highly-cited papers in the field of translational oncology research. Currently, Dan manages and operates a portfolio of internet companies, and has partnered with Wired Investors to help grow the company in the rapidly expanding micro-cap private equity space. He is fascinated by the potential of exponential technologies in both biotech and cryptocurrency.

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How Your Friends Determine Whether You Succeed or Not

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Can anyone do without having friends? We all have our friends, we share ideas with them, talk together, have fun, and fight. Yes, that’s the baseline of friendship. But, do you know that aside from you, your friends can determine whether you achieve success or not?

There are two things in friendship which are the ability to ”love” and the ability to “influence”. This means you are loved and you are influenced. How do your friends affect your success in life? How are they one of the biggest deciding factors of your success? Let’s find out.

What type of friends do you keep? 

First, what type of friends do you keep? Who do you call your best friend? There are two different kinds of friends, good friends, and bad ones. A lot of people have lost their pathway to success and some have also found their road to success all because of the friends they keep, the people they mingle with. 

Who is your best friend? Answer carefully. Having a best friend means you find each other compatible and understanding. Analyze who your best friend is. If your best friend has not motivated you to do something positive, if who you call your bestie has never given you positive advice, lastly if your best friend has never informed and advised you on your shortcomings, then you don’t have a best friend.

This quote tells us “birds of the same feather flock together”. Countless people have changed from their good nature into a bad one all because of friends. One thing to note is, “negative people move with negative aura”. If your best friend is filled with negativity inside-out then you will surely be affected by his/her negative aura.

They influence your success with positivity or negativity 

The friends you keep can either influence you with positivity or negativity because your friends have the power to change your kind of person completely. 

This is how your friends influence you:

  1. They influence you indirectly with what they do
  2. They influence you directly by teaching and giving you advice 

Yes, that is how they influence you. For instance, you watch a movie and you like the way the actor walks. The question is if you truly like the way the actor walks, won’t you try to imitate the actor? Of course, you will.

Just the way you imitate the actor is the same way your friends can influence you with their character. However, the funny part is, they don’t have to teach you to do things like them. You just find yourself imitating and copying them gradually.

An important question to ask is, are you imitating a good friend or a bad one? If you imitate a good friend then you will be good, but if you imitate a bad person, you will surely become a bad person.

Everyone wants to succeed, a good friend will always teach, enlighten, and motivate you for success. A bad friend will only motivate you to do evil things (smoking, drinking, fight, envy,).

And you should know that things like that are a great enemy of success and even of God. So, if you have these bad elements in your life, how will you achieve success? There is no way!

And also, they can teach and advise you directly. But, what do your friends teach you? When you ask them for advice do they inspire you positively or teach you the bad stuff.? A lot of people have regretted lifelong decisions just by listening to the advice of friends. 

The company you keep has the power to influence and change you. Never forget that a positive influence will teach, motivate, and brush you up for success. While a negative influence will inspire you to become a bad person, change your good nature, and leave you with regrets in the end.

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The 3 Step Process to Building a Profitable Pitch

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As a communication coach, one of the top questions entrepreneurs ask me is how to deliver a winning pitch to potential investors. They want to know if there’s a magic formula to get an investor to say yes and buy into their dream and their business. (more…)

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The 4 Pillars of Wealth and Abundance

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Have you ever wondered what the formula for a wealthy and abundant life is? Many people have. Lots has been written about the subject of wealth creation and living an abundant life. It was a breaking point in my journey and pursuit of success when I found out that there is a clear path to achieve success in life. Thanks to those who have shared their journey, we can clearly see and follow the principles of prosperity. (more…)

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Here Are 4 Reasons Why You Should Have a Podcast, Youtube Channel or Online Show

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Confidence comes from a place of strong understanding of self. After close to three years on radio, I’ve grown from a shy introvert to a shy introvert with an extrovert persona. When the mic is turned on, I can channel a version of myself that some say is attractive, strong, and of course, confident but it wasn’t always this way.

What I want to share with you is what I discovered on this journey into broadcast that you can apply to your life, your ventures, and your personal development. This doesn’t require any fancy gear. It does require a leap of faith on your part because once you go down the road of media; it can change your life.

1. Perceived Expertise

When you go to a doctor, you expect their knowledge will guide them to a solution to your problems. When you have a show, you become your listeners’ doctor. For all the multiple thousands, maybe millions, of YouTube channels, podcasts, and user-created content in the world, each person that gets behind a mic takes a position on their passion, their opinions, and their themes.

They challenge the status quo for the benefit of their listeners in hopes to entertain and educate. With consistency on your side, those fans place you on a platform and give you permission to influence them.

2. Global Acknowledgement

One of the benefits to increasing confidence is when you receive thank you notes from people you may never meet. The feeling of enriching someone’s life from halfway around the globe, provides validation you’re enhancing someone else’s life with your wisdom and your wit.

The very first time I was told I was making a difference in someone’s life in a country other than my own, I felt like I caused massive impact that transcends my circle of influence. When you experience just how much you can cause impact and it comes back to you, it’ll change your worldview.

“Be grateful for what you have and stop complaining – it bores everybody else, does you no good, and doesn’t solve any problems.” – Zig Ziglar

3. Backed By Numbers

One of the most exciting ways to measure success is to quantify your growth. It’s not enough to just broadcast. Having subscribers and downloads helps to know, numerically, how well you’re doing. Word of caution. This can be a way to set yourself up for distress because of number envy but if you understand what the numbers mean; you can control the narrative of the numbers.

The major number that makes most people smile is 10,000. I’d advise it to be 1. Here’s why. As you grow in your industry, so does your reach. If you learned that the one person that subscribed totally changed for the better because of you, wouldn’t that be worth the effort?

4. Effective Communication

While it’s not talked about much, having a show is documentation. You create a dynamic account of your life, your industry, and the pulse on what’s important simply by having a show. When you find a channel to improve your communication skills, you demand attention and people will listen to you. You become more trusted as a leader and people will follow you once they believe you can lead them to their wants and needs.

“To effectively communicate, we must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others.” – Tony Robbins

These insights have helped many people become leaders and, ultimately, move others to their best selves. It’s worked for me and I hope it works for you. At the end of the day, it’s all about showing up and showing out.

Have you ever thought about having a radio show? If so, what would you talk about? Let us below!

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