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Wednesday, May 30 2012
The Willpower Instinct by Kelly McGonigal Ph.d. makes a big promise on the cover. To teach you not only how self control works but how to get more of it in your life. The premise is that the “I will” power and the “I won’t” power are managed by the “I want” power. There is a comical component to the book if you can manage some self-honesty and admit that you believe this basic tenant. That we all perceive the future me to have more time, more focus, more desire and more willpower than the present me. Why a diet would work better next month or why next January is a better time to start reading the Bible through is better than starting today is a mystery. We see it that way, but in reality, it’s a myth. The future me will be more of the present me unless immediate modifications are made. The three components of willpower are;
 
1.    I will power is the power to do what you should do even when you don’t want to.
 
2.    I won’t power is the power to resist the thing you shouldn’t do no matter how tempting it is.
 
3.    I want power is the power to remember the thing that you really want in life which drives and manages the other two.
 
Most willpower battles are the battle between the present and the future. The desire portion of the brain is in constant search of satisfaction (reward) and will take a lesser reward now rather than a greater reward later. That is one of the willpower challenges. The loud voice shouting reward now is louder than the faint voice saying bigger reward later. The section on Olds and Milner’s rats and the discovery of how dopamine works on the brain is worth the time to read the whole book. If you study the Bible you will see science is finally catching up with what the Bible has said for thousands of years about normal human behavior. Of course, the scientists discovered it.
 
The book has very good advice for coming to terms with the fact that your future you (the one you imagine has infinite willpower and total self control) cannot be trusted to act as nobly as you imagine he/she will. You will learn great willpower tools that are both effective and doable.   Getting to the “I want” of your life will require willpower and willpower will require knowing what force is at work challenging your “I want” and how to disable it before it wrecks something.
 
Read this and other book reviews in the book review section of www.mjvi.org/jv_blog
 
Posted by: John Pearson AT 12:33 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, May 28 2012
Energy management, not time management is the key to high performance. That is the topic of the book The Power of Full Engagement by Jim Loehr and Tony Scwhartz. The idea behind the book is that both the overuse and underuse of personal energy actually diminishes our capacity to accomplish things. That was a radical thought for a time management junkie to swallow but does explain a lot of the fatigue and dissatisfaction with results that they (we) can experience. So, time management, to the extent that it utilizes spiritual, physical, emotional or mental energy, but does not allow time to replenish them actually produces less results than properly utilizing and replenishing energy. Here are the four major energy food groups discussed in the book.
 
1.    Spiritual strength is the ability to stay committed to the deepest belief and value that a person has regardless of external circumstances.  This really answers the "why" question with respect to what we throw our life at.  Its the objective of the others. 
 
2.    Mental energy (endurance) is the ability to concentrate and sustain focus.  The power to pay attention to the important things at hand.
 
3.    Physical capacity is measure in endurance, flexibility and strength.  To work with energy and not just try to motor through the fatigue.
 
4.    Emotional strength is the ability to function and respond in a broad range of emotions and the ability to bounce back after moments on extreme disappointment, frustration or loss.
 
The concept to build capacity for all four categories is a simple one that is the norm for physical training. You push all four dimensions past their normal limit then you create a system for recovery.   The recovery system, in part, involves  a group of positive energy building rituals. Rituals are those things you do habitually without thinking about them but they provide much of the recovery necessary to build energy capacity. The authors propose that energy management is the fundamental currency of high performance. If you face the paradox of needing this book’s advice in order to have enough energy to read this book (which I call the early morning need to drink coffee to be awake enough to make coffee syndrome) you will be relieved to find the  “Bear in Mind” section (Cliff’s notes) at the end of each chapter. 
 
This and other book reviews can be found in the book review archives at www.mjvi.org/jv_blog
 
Posted by: John Pearson AT 11:39 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
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