Let me start my speech with one of my favorite quotes.
Between Stimulus and Response, there is a space.
In that space lies our freedom and our power to choose our response.
In our response lies our growth and our happiness.
This is from famous book Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl
This is very powerful quote and tells one of the essentials of success. That space and freedom to choose our response is what is usually called – Will Power
Before we move further let’s talk about an experiment conducted by Stanford University in 60s.
In this experiment, they worked with small school kids. Each kid was left in room for some time with a dessert.
They were given option either they could wait for 15 minute and have that sweet and one more. Or they could eat that one before 15 minute but then they got just one that and not second one.
As you would expect, most of the kids didn’t have patients to wait and had that one dessert quickly.
But few kids waited to get two desserts.
Although this studies was originally for delayed gratification, few scientists tracked kids who were part of this experiment for many years.
They saw a strange correlation.
Kids who were able to wait longer for the second reward had better life outcomes as academic scores, education attainment, BMI and other life measures.
The results might have been surprising but it is not difficult to find reasoning behind this correlation.
Those kids who were better at delaying temptation for deserts, had better self-control and it helped them throughout the life.
Same will power that Victor mentions in that quote.
This experiment was important landmark in proving the importance of self-control and will power in success in life.
This ‘Power to choose Response’ or ‘Self Control’ or ‘Will Power’ has been proved one of the most essential skill set in recent past.
It has been concluded from various experiments that this skill set is even more important than intellectual skills.
In corporate world this has got lot of attention with name of ‘Emotional Intelligence’
I am sure now you know what I am talking about.
This is nothing but ability to feel and know your emotions as they arise, sense emotion of others who are dealing with you and your ability to choose your response intentionally.
As we saw in earlier experiment that will power is essential trait for success in life.
So, the formula for success could be very simple that use most of your will power and have self-control.
Unfortunately the answer is not that simple, there is a twist.
There was another experiment conducted on adults. Under this experiment, grown-ups assembled in a room they were asked to choose any number from list of numbers ranging from 3 digit to 7 digit.
They were free to choose any one number of any digit.
As part of experiment they were asked to keep the number in their mind and tell that in next room.
In between these two rooms they were offered a food reward to participate in experiment.
As food reward, they were given option to choose among healthy salad or rich chocolate mousse cake.
It was observed the participants who chose number with higher digit were choosing more of cake than salad.
Scientists concluded that remembering a bigger number is tougher task.
Those who chose bigger number had already used part of their will power to choose difficult option.
When they were given option to choose among salad and cake, they had limited stock of will power left, so they gave up to temptation to choose cake.
This and other experiments have proved that we don’t have unlimited source of will power.
We start our day with limited stock of will power, by end of day we have already used it on many tough decisions. We need to be judicious about use of our will power.
So, I would like to conclude that will power, self-control and power to choose response are essential for success in professional and personal life, but be mindful where you use your limited stock of will power.
You don’t need to control everything, in fact you can’t.
They say ‘Choose your battles wisely‘ I would add ‘specially with yourself‘