There is nothing special about me.
Throughout school, I was a B student...
I was never talented at sports...
And my English teachers would laugh if they knew I made a living from writing.
However, this lack of talent forced me to learn several crucial life skills:
- I had to develop a strong work ethic.
- I had to practice habitually.
- And I had to learn how to learn.
But I never would have developed these skills without one crucial factor...
There is no worse state of mind than desperation.
You forget your values.
You compromise your principles
You make big sacrifices with equally big consequences.
You become so focused on getting out of whatever jam you're in, that you lose sight of what the consequences of your actions will lead to down the road.
There are two things I'm sure everybody reading this has experienced at some point:
Failure & Guilt.
Everybody has tried...
Everybody has failed...
And everbody has felt guilty about letting friends, family, or themselves down.
But does feeling guilty really motivate you to "get back on track?"
When I was a teenager, there were few things I feared more....
Not because of school work, but because they were a reminder that I *was not the person I aspired to be.*
The hotel maids – all who claimed to be the furthest thing from habitual exercisers – were learning how many calories they were burning on a daily basis.
I’m a writer without the use of his hands…what am I going to do?
Those were my thoughts as the doctor put my wrist into a splint.
For the next month, I wouldn’t be able to type.
Being an old-fashioned guy, my doctor suggested buying a notebook and pen. A fine idea, but it doesn’t quite work for writing articles on the Internet. So I came home, opened Google, and searched for solutions to my problem.
Destin Sandlin thought the task would be simple.
One of his friends had created something he called, “a backwards bike.”
The backwards bike concept is very basic:
- When you move the handlebars to the left, the bike’s tire goes right.
- When you move the handlebars to the right, the bike’s tire goes left.
Hitler would ADORE you!
My heart was pounding as I opened the email with that as the subject. It was the first email I received after posting this article explaining the psychology behind the love and hate of Trump.
As I opened up the email, I saw all of the hate...
I had officially completed The Will of Heroes, and I felt incredibly proud of the accomplishment.
But as I moved onto the acknowledgements and citations I realized just how much brilliant writers and researchers who came before me have influenced my work.
The rigorous research, the groundbreaking conclusions, and brilliant principles taught by these people helped me become a willpower superstar—and they can help you become one as well!
I couldn’t believe my eyes. The towers that stood as a symbol of the iconic New York City skyline were up in flames.
People were jumping out of windows…
The streets were filled with emergency responders…
And almost 3,000 people died from the incident…
Even as a Canadian at the time, the images will forever be burned in my memory. And they justifiably instilled a sense of fear into millions of Americans. Americans who would soon lose their lives because of that fear.
Over the next few years alone, almost just as many Americans died due to the terror attacks of 9/11.
I’ll never forget that moment.
I had been studying the biographies of successful people for years trying to find the key factors that led them to greatness. I found things that were pretty obvious indicators of success—dreaming big, setting goals, working hard, and so on.
But these alone could not be the answer I was looking for.
Jim Stockdale was taking yet another beating from his captors in the Hanoi Hilton—one of the most brutal prisoner-of-war camps during the Vietnam War.
Just hold on for 5 more minutes…
It felt like I was just hit by a truck. My head crashed hard on the field and was throbbing in pain. It was my first football practice since moving to the United States from Canada, and I was enduring torture.
Louis C.K. sat in his car, depressed.
He was 33 years old and just finished doing his standup routine at a Chinese restaurant.
A Chinese restaurant!
A place where nobody even knew there was going to be a comedian, and many were probably annoyed by his presence.
It was a beautiful Saturday in early September and I was in total bliss.
I was at a lake house, my friends were all around, and we were simply relaxing - enjoying the last days of summer. Then a rush of panic came over me as I realized the truth of the situation.
This was all a lie. In reality, I was doomed.
“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.
In 2001, Joe DeSena, the founder of The Spartan Race, was in a car accident that ripped his hip out of his socket.
After his injury, the first 4 doctors he met with said that he would never be able to run again. This news devastated Joe. He was an athlete all of his life and could not imagine never running again.
So Joe refused to accept that fate. He decided that he was going to do everything he could to be able to run again. This made him hyperfocused. He was going to prove doctors wrong, and to prove that his will was unbreakable.
Her mother prayed for good news as she sent 3-year old Temple Grandin to a speech therapist.
Diagnosed with autism, Temple was thought to be incapable of learning language. In the 1950s, that meant she would be institutionalized all of her life unless she could show she was capable of entering school.
Her parents tried everything they could, and this speech therapist was their last resort.
Thankfully, against all odds, young Temple made progress. It was slow, but Temple was able to speak well enough to be enrolled in a normal school.
It was a simple a train ride from Manchester to London to most of the passengers on the train, but for one passenger, it would be the spark that would change the world of literature forever.
Joanne Rowling – better known as J.K. Rowling – was overcome with excitement as she saw a vision of a young, scrawny boy who the world would come to fall in love with.
“I saw Harry! I could see him very clearly – this scrawny little boy. And it was the most physical rush of excitement. It was the same feeling that you get when you meet someone new and feel as if you have found the person you are going to spend the rest of your life with.”
In 1896, two brothers named Orville and Wilber Wright had a preposterous idea.
“What if we could be the first ones to create manned flight?”
There was no reason to believe that the brothers would be successful. They had no formal education in engineering. They had no experience with any kind of aviation. And they had no financial backing – only the meager profits from their bicycle repair business.
They were also competing against the best and brightest minds in the country.
“What am I doing wrong?!”
Thought the world-class missionary and linguist, Daniel Everett.
He had been sent deep into the heart of the Amazon jungle to teach Christianity to a tribe known as the Piraha. 
The Piraha language has been called THE hardest to understand on the planet. It seems to have no grammar structure to it, no alphabet, and one phrase has incredibly different meanings.
The year was 1519 and Hernán Cortés, with some 600 Spanish soldiers, had landed on a vast inland plateau called Mexico.
The Spanish conquistador and his men were about to embark on a conquest of an empire that hoarded some of the world’s greatest treasure. But, with only 600 unarmored men, conquering an empire as vast as Mexico was a mission that was doomed to fail.
This fact was even more clear when you look at the history of Europeans invading Mexico. Many with more soldiers and more resources had tried and failed to conquer the empire.
So Cortés devised a different strategy.
Carol is in one of the most universally dreaded positions - she is about to give a public speech.
Her palms are sweaty. She can feel her knees trembling. She begins to look down on her notes, then up at the stage where the spotlight is on the person introducing her. Her heart feels like it is about to completely beat out of her chest.
How is she supposed to go up and talk in front of all of these people?!
She is certain that she is going to make a mistake, miss a key part of her speech and have the entire crowd ridicule her. It feels as if she fears the next 30 minutes more than any other 30 minutes she has ever faced in her life.
“Sleep?! Sleep is for people who are broke. I don’t sleep. I have an opportunity to turn a dream into a reality.” – Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson
I think about that quote every time I am up late working, and realize that I have more work than hours that I planned to stay awake. I know the extraordinary value that sleep has on my willpower, but when I want to keep working, I just think about that quote.
Then I turn to other anecdotal stories about people achieving greatness through a lack of sleep and strong willpower to overcome their body’s natural urge to sleep and persevere toward their dreams.
The walk to the gym.
It was a walk I had been doing for over 2 and a half years as I had been training for the Spartan Race. In my first race in October 2012, I finished in 334th. But after over 2 years of hard training I had worked my way up to finishing 7th – a mere 2 spots away from becoming a sponsored athlete.
"Why don't these people get it?!"
Thought researchers who were studying a group of non-exercisers who were trying to set up a habitual exercise routine.
The participants had been asked to estimate the amount of time they knew FOR SURE they'd be able to spend in the gym over the next 2 weeks. On average, the participants planned to spend about 10 hours/week in the gym.
I'm sure you have gone through a similar planning process at some point. So you probably won’t be shocked when I tell you that the average time actually spent in the gym wasn’t even half of that!
“I quit my job and I’m going to start a blog where I write about and teach the science of willpower.”
How would your friends and family react to that statement?
Yeah, mine too.
Blank stares, worried faces and ultimately a lot of judgment and criticism – especially because the last time I pursued a dream, I failed. Miserably.
“A fool doth think himself wise. But a wise man knows himself to be a fool.” – William Shakespeare
In 1846, Vienna General Hospital had a crisis – 1 in 6 women who came into the hospital to give birth were dying of childbed fever.
Every day, women were developing the disease during child birth and dying at such a rapid rate that many were choosing to take the risk of giving birth at home rather than going to the hospital.
It has been called the most difficult language to understand on the planet.
In the second half of the 20th century, Missionaries have gone deep into the jungle of the Amazon to try to bring God’s message to a tribe known as the Piraha. Many have been driven half mad in their attempts to learn their language that seems to have little structure or methodology to it .