“I firmly believe that any man's finest hour, the greatest fulfillment of all that he holds dear, is that moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle - victorious.” – Vince Lombardi.
Every day for the last 15 days I have told myself that quote.
We are through the first half of the Kickstarter campaign to fund the publishing of The Will of Heroes, and so far it has been the hardest, yet most fulfilling 15 days of my life.
My life’s work is now a boat on its way to a destination, and I am the sailor doing all I can to keep it on course. We have faced rocky waters, terrible weather, and challenges I couldn't have possibly predicted - but we remain on pace to make it there on time.
Here are 4 powerful lessons that I've learned from the last 15 days of grinding:
1. PLANNING IS PRICELESS, BUT PLANS ARE USELESS
I went into this Kickstarter campaign with a plan.
I read as much as I could about what separated the successes from the failures, what the best practices were, how to make the best video, etc.
So I wrote out detailed plan of action. Who I was going to reach out to, when I was going to do it, what I was going to say...
I also had the rewards well-crafted based on what others were doing and thought they were genius!
Then came time for my Will of Heroes ship to set sail...and I realized how many mistakes I had made right away. Immediately I had to make significant changes that in some cases I couldn't change on Kickstarter after the project goes live.
Yet, I would never have learned these things until I had actually "set sail" figuring out what works and what doesn’t. The project has been in a constant state of change this whole time and to this day I’m still changing it.
I’m so glad that I went through the planning process because it made me think and prepare, but the plan I had got tossed out the window on day one.
Willpower lesson – Plan and prepare as much as you can for whatever your “gameday” is, but get ready to learn and adapt. There are things you won’t know until you’re in it.
2. THE POWER OF NOT LETTING FAILURE BE AN OPTION
Several months ago, I wrote an article about Hernan Cortes burning his ships when his army arrived in Mexico – leaving him and his men no retreat. There were only 2 options: succeed or die. They succeeded. 
This journey has had the same effect on me. Failing to reach the goal is not an option – especially now that there are over 100 people that are expecting a finished copy of the book!
That means I am forced to face my weaknesses – being vulnerable, being detail-oriented, and believing that I can do it all myself – and conquer them. It is forcing me to put myself out there, forcing me to look at every detail, and forcing me to ask for support.
Thanks to failure not being an option, I have gotten in touch with autism groups to discuss the value of teaching parents about how to use the science of willpower to help their children persevere through their extraordinary challenges.
And I have corresponded with some of the heroes themselves! Which has meant the world to me.
If failure was an option, I would have procrastinated all of those things until I felt like I was more “ready”.
Willpower lesson – when working toward a goal, do not let failure be an option. You will be surprised by what you’re capable of doing to succeed!
3. FOCUS ON THE SMALL GOAL RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU, AND ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE
Once I realized how flawed my original plan was, I started to doubt myself.
I saw how far away we were from reaching the total goal and I thought that there was just no way it was going to be possible to reach it.
But then I came back to what I have learned and written about for years. Set the destination to your big goal, but then forget about it. Shift your focus to the small wins you need to achieve to get there.
Most Kickstarter campaigns have a huge surge of funding at the beginning, then they slow down in the middle, and then pick up near the finish. But The Will of Heroes has made steady progress every single day.
This shows the typical 5-day fundraising trends:
Admittedly, part of that is because I made so many mistakes in the beginning that we didn’t get the initial “surge”. But it is also because I am simply focused on winning each day.
I am not waiting for the typical Kickstarter growth curve to come to me. I am learning, adapting, and fighting for each small win to ensure that we stay on track.
Willpower lesson – don’t focus on the huge, daunting goal you want to achieve. Focus only on the small goal right in front of you. And get ready to fight for every inch.
4. AN INSPIRING PURPOSE IS THE GREATEST WILLPOWER YOU HAVE
Each of my Kickstarter days has started at 5am and ended no earlier than 12am. Other than quickly eating, exercising, and meditating, I have been at my desk working.
I have heard stories of some of the greatest masters of all time – Leonardo DaVinci, Albert Einstein, Bill Gates – producing great works with hardly any sleep.
But there is a more important component of willpower and that is an inspiring purpose. Truly believing in what you are fighting for will give you extra energy that you didn’t even realize that you had.
Pushing myself this hard will not work as a long-term strategy, but the fact is that there are moments in life that count much more than others.
The 30 days of this Kickstarter campaign will play a big role in my life’s task of strengthening the willpower of the world – one person at a time.
And because of that, I am able to find the willpower I need to keep going, to keep improving, to keep learning, and to keep fighting every day to make progress. 
Willpower lesson - Search for your purpose and pursue it relentlessly. It will give you more willpower than anything else I write about on this site.
CONCLUSION – GETTING THROUGH THE MIDDLE
I was going to save a post about the lessons in willpower from this campaign until after the 30 days were over, but that was another part of the plan that got tossed out the window.
Right now I am in the middle of the journey. The middle is the hardest part of reaching any goal because your initial enthusiasm has worn off and you see just how far you are from reaching the finish line.
I am overworked, I am tired, and my wrist is actually in a splint because it was so swollen from typing for 14 hours a day. Yet, I am more excited than ever to fight for every inch in the second half of this campaign.
After all, every man’s finest hour, the greatest fulfillment of all that he holds dear, is that moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle – victorious.
- Singarayar, K. (2009). About BurningBoats.com. from http://burningboats.com/about-burningboatscom/
- Goel, Namni, Hengyi Rao, Jeffrey Durmer, and David Dinges. "Neurocognitive Consequences of Sleep Deprivation." Seminars in Neurology 29.04 (2009): 320-39
- McGonigal, K. (2012) The Willpower Instinct: How Self-control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More of It. New York: Avery.