Day 1: Introduction

Day 1 | Will Power | Soul | Personality | G-College

What thought comes to mind first when you think of what requires willpower? For most of us, the classic test of willpower is temptation, be it a donut, cigarette, or one-night adventure. When people say “I am powerless,” it usually means “It’s hard for me to say no when my mouth, stomach, heart, or… wants to say yes.” Call it the “I won’t” power. But the ability to say no is just one component of willpower. After all, “just say no” is the three favorite words of willpower enthusiasts and layabouts everywhere. Sometimes it’s much more important to say yes: otherwise, how will you get to all the things you keep putting off until tomorrow? Willpower helps you put it on today’s to-do list, even when uncertainty, petty worries, or an endless stream of reality TV shows try to convince you otherwise. This ability to do what needs to be done, even if some part of your soul doesn’t want to, we’ll call the “I will” power. The forces of “I will” and “I won’t” are two sides of self-control, but it is not limited to these. To speak in terms of yes and no, a third force is necessary: the ability to remember what you really want. It may seem like you really want that chocolate croissant or martini or day off, but when faced with temptation or procrastination, you must remember what you truly want, such as fitting into those skinny jeans, getting a promotion, paying off your credit card debt, preserving your marriage, or avoiding jail time. Otherwise, what will keep you from instant gratification? To have self-control, you need to know what is truly important to you. This is the force of “I want.”


This is the management of three forces: “I will,” “I will not,” and “I want,” and it helps you achieve your goals. As we will see, we human beings are the fortunate possessors of brains that support all three functions. In essence, the development of these three forces defines us as a human species. Before we move on to the nitty-gritty: analyzing why we struggle to use them, let’s appreciate what a lucky chance it is that we have them.


we transported ourselves 100,000 years back in time, and you are a brand new Homo sapiens among all the evolved diversity. Yes, I’ll wait while you marvel at your distant big toes, straight posture, and hyoid bone that allows you to produce some semblance of speech, although I’m sure I won’t understand a word. By the way, congratulations: you know how to start a fire without starting a fire.

Source of Will Power

Imagine growing up in a friendly tribe and relying on other homo sapiens for survival. This means you must add “don’t upset anyone along the way” to your list of priorities. The community involves cooperation and resource sharing, you can’t just take what you want. If you steal someone’s buttered bread with bovine meat or a friend, you could be exiled from the tribe or even killed – remember that other homo sapiens also have sharp stone tools, and your skin is much thinner than a buffalo’s. Moreover, your tribe is necessary for you: it takes care of you when you are sick or injured and cannot hunt or gather berries. Even in the Stone Age, the rules for making friends and influencing people were similar to today’s: help when a neighbor needs blood, share your meal, even if you’re not full yet, and think twice before saying: “That loincloth suits you.” In other words, please take care of yourself at least a little bit. Not only is your life on the line. The survival of the entire tribe depends on your ability to choose who to fight and who to marry, not with first cousins: genetic diversity must be increased, otherwise your entire tribe will be plagued by one disease. And if you are lucky enough to find a mate, it is expected that you will be joined for life, not just for a moment behind a bush. Yes, you, the modern human, have an abundance of new ways to get into trouble thanks to your time-tested food, aggressive, and sexual instincts.

Need of Will Power

Let’s return to modern life, of course, leave your distant big fingers behind, but probably you will want to dress up a bit. The strength of will has turned from what distinguishes people from other animals into what distinguishes people from each other. Perhaps we were all born with the ability to self-control, but some use it more often than others. People who better manage their attention, emotions, and actions are more successful, no matter how you look at it. They are healthier and happier. Close relationships bring them more joy and last longer. They earn more and achieve more in their careers. They handle stress better, resolve conflicts, and overcome adversity. They even live longer. If we compare the strength of will with other virtues, it will be the highest. Self-control, more than intelligence, determines success in college, it makes a bigger contribution to effective management than charisma, and is more important for family happiness than sensitivity. If we want to live better, the strength of will is certainly not a bad start.

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