By KARSTEN NILSEN, Sports Psychologist, adapted by THERESE ALHAUG
Thomas Edison, Michael Jordan, Nick Skelton, Henry Ford, J.K. Rowling, William Kamkwamba, Greta Thunberg, Justin Gallegos, Lee Pearson. This is a shortlist of people who have enjoyed success! Some you may have heard of, others not. Those you recognize have performed to the degree that their merits have been noticed by most people and are very well known. Those not identified have also performed, but then by taking off 5 kg, managed to run 10 k in an hour and stopped smoking.
The point is that we all intend to “perform” in one-way or another. Sometimes we achieve the goals we have set, but usually not without having faced and overcome some resistance, experienced setbacks, negative thoughts, been frustrated, felt hopelessness, etc. This is of
One of the famous people on the list is Thomas Edison. He invented the light bulb, but not without having experienced many setbacks and overcome innumerable problems. He had over 1000 unsuccessful trials before the bulb lit up. Most of us would have thrown in their towel long ago. Edison, however, had a very constructive attitude to all the failures and recounted in this
An obvious answer is that they “love” what they are doing and in this way have a very strong inner drive or motivation which enables them to spend so many hours as they do. Another important explanation is their willpower, persistence, “gang ho” etc. that is absolutely necessary to have when setbacks crop up. We have many names for the things we love, but what does it imply that some seem to have loads of, while others seemingly lack?
If we look at this mentioned willpower or mental strength, it suggests that this is something that can be trained. All strength is relative, and is an attribute we more or less can get by training or just not bother. For logically and physically says that when we train we get stronger.
“No goal of a certain magnitude can be achieved without facing obstacles and very often very many obstacles”
Looking more concretely on willpower, it is defined as: the ability to ignore immediate impulses to achieve a goal in the long run”. Edison ́s impulses after one failed trail we know nothing about, but it is possible that these were not of the positive sort regardless of attitude. Based on the definition, you may argue that willpower as a notion probably fits better in relation to overriding impulses of another nature. If you have as your goal to lose 5 kilos you normally do not eat chocolate. An offer from a friend of a bite of chocolate probably emanates an impulse in the form of a craving that may be difficult to ignore. If the person in question anyway declines the offer, he or she has overridden the immediate impulse in order to reach their end goal. On the other hand, if the person eats the piece of chocolate, another type of impulse emerges, and that is the feeling of having failed and perhaps thoughts of giving up. However, this is also an impulse that can be overridden, so that one continues on the job of attaining the objective after having met a minor setback.
In this regard, Edison also had a long-term goal and on the way experienced several immediate impulses, that could have resulted in his throwing in his towel. However, he ignored these impulses, possibly because of an outspoken attitude stating failures are merely necessary events on the road to success. In this way willpower as a concept is applicable here.
If we look at the definition one more time, it tells us also something about a goal, and this is very important! Because if we do not have specific goals, we do not need so much willpower. The concept is often used in connection with “something” negative that may happen and which has to be overcome when it happens.
“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work”
Was Edison born with a lot of willpower or had he trained himself to be strong? This is a relatively complex question, but research suggests everyone can be stronger through training, but perhaps not the strongest. In the same way someone’s genetically conditioned to become very muscular, run fast, jump high etc., then someone is genetically conditioned to possess a lot of willpower. But, even though there is an inherited factor in play, a lot depends on the environment and on training. Research, therefore, compares willpower to a muscle. If we use the muscle too much without restitution, it loses its power and puts us in a position where it is easier to give in to impulses.
In relation to Edison, this perhaps is not completely true. For if one uses a limited amount of willpower as often as he may have needed to, suggests that he maybe should have given up. However, the explanation may be that he had such a strong genetic conditioned “constitution.”
On the other hand, it may be that because Edison was an inventor and inventors are used to many failed attempts before they succeed, he may have over time trained up this willpower a little bit at a time by not giving in to many previous experiments that also were unsuccessful. About this the story says nothing, but it
If we follow this thread of thinking, it is obvious that Edison had a clearly defined goal, loved what he did, and that his motivation to succeed was formidable. This is also of utmost importance because “right” goals influence the important motivation, that which all the time drives us forward. Obviously, if we are not especially motivated to reach the goal, we will not either complete the tasks that have to be completed in order to succeed.
The difference between motivation and willpower then becomes that one drives us forward and to complete the task, both those pleasant and those not so pleasant, and that the other prevents us from stopping or giving up when a setback appears.
It is most probable that Edison was conscious that his task would not be easy and that many trials would have to be undertaken before being able to succeed. Your attitude to this undoubtedly is also of great importance in advance of any setback. Very few things have a tendency to go on rails and most of us get derailed now and then. That, which often sets people apart, is how quickly we get up in the saddle again. Here some are very quick, while others use much more time on the ground before mounting, and then with a little less motivation and with a little bruised willpower.
Which strategy we have when this happens, and is adopted when this happens, is, of course, vital since doubt and negative thoughts ay quickly take hold, often unconsciously. Therefore it is very helpful, and often decisive that we practice the ability to make us aware that this is happening, otherwise we would normally react on autopilot, something that is both compromising and unfortunate. In this connection, researchers have asked some people how they felt before giving up, and the answer is quite unanimous that they felt downtrodden. This suggests that something has emerged that makes them feel low (