Have You Got The Willpower To Read This? Willpower Tips

2011 saw the publication of an exciting book on the science of willpower by one of the world’s leading experts on motivation, professor Roy F Baumeister. So, to ask a seemingly obvious question, why exactly does willpower matter?  Baumeister explains that “it separates us from the animals. It’s the capacity to restrain our impulses, resist temptation – do what’s right and good for us in the long run, not what we want to do right now. It’s central, in fact, to civilisation.” What interests us at MotivatingMax is that there are some sound scientific principles to back up the professor’s contentions: For example, multiple studies have shown that children who performed well on willpower tests went on to become more successful in their adult lives; happier, higher status, healthier, more likely to be in stable relationships, and less likely to commit crime than their impulsive peers. The kinds of tests used to assess willpower in children are revealing, they tell us in a nutshell what the concept is all about. In a 2010 New-Zealand study which ran for 32 years and sampled 1,000 participants, the children were given a choice to have a single marshmallow now or two if they were able to wait. This principle applies to so many health-relevant behaviours in our lives and it touches on a general problem with people in the modern age. By and large, we are becoming focussed on immediate gratification. Our whole society is geared up for instant results- whether we are talking about speed dating or fast food. Nobody is willing to wait or defer any more. Willpower and posture Our focus at Motivating Max is health and fitness so let’s consider Professor Baumeister’s principle in terms of posture and mobility. If we drop something on the ground we have two choices, it’s easier and quicker to bend our lumbar...

Taking Inspiration from Ballet

Inspiration is something that is is always there- but like a radio we just need to tune into the right frequencies rather than the static of negativity. With this in mind, I thought I would share with you this example that came to me yesterday; it is one that proves inspiration can come from the unlikeliest of sources. First, I want to ask a favour of you. I want you to take a couple of minutes to look at this video. It’s the pas de deux from “Caravaggio” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l3weR3kGygc) see below – Check out the moves from a couple of minutes in. Amazing. So you might be wondering why on earth you are looking at a scene from a ballet? The answer is Motivation. I am possibly not making too much sense yet so let me elaborate: What did you notice first about that short film? What struck me was the dancers’ extraordinary motivation to succeed. To stick at such a punishing schedule from an early age is no easy task. The way they maintain such precise control over each muscle shows us a magical glimpse of the years of furious perseverance. This made me contemplate what I could achieve  over the next few years with a 10th, or even a 100th of their will and determination! None of these dancers made this journey on their own. They all had a choreographer, possibly with a cane, rapping out the meter of the movements, motivating them to keep going, to scale great heights that they would not have been able to achieve on their own. Bravissimo! Now this brings me to a point about this website and our mission: We are here to facilitate YOUR motivation. We aim to give you positive, ambitious expectations and then instill and maintain the belief that, with the right amount of effort and knowledge,...

Motivation: Believe in the Impossible

To act on the ability to envisage our eventual success must have been one of the qualities that enabled early humans to overcome their environment. Without this adaptive nature and motivation to create something better for ourselves, the species could not have come so far. The screen you are reading this on and the internet you connected for downloading the data, would not exist if someone had not envisaged the seemingly impossible. Innovation Innovation is rendered even more impressive when we consider that for every innovator there are thousands of naysayers. For example, the chairman of IBM Thomas Watson said in 1943 that he foresaw a world market for perhaps five computers, and he went further in suggesting that there was no reason anyone would want a personal computer in their home. Let’s take a look at some strategies to achieve the seemingly impossible: The first strategy is to invalidate any self doubt or limitation in your thinking. This might include irrational fears, especially the fear of what others may think of our ideas. Some great successes have come about through ignorance of perceived limitations. A classic example is that of the bumblebee. When zoologists first examined the winged insect they concluded that, based on its weight and muscular strength it was impossible for it to fly. Yet the bumblebee had never been told that he couldn’t fly, so fly he did. Take action The second approach we should consider is taking action. The renegade graffiti artist and cultural phenomenon from the UK, Banksy, once said: “There is nothing more common than talented unsuccessful people. Get out of the house before you find something to stay in for”. Surely it is better to not dream at all if you are not going to take any action to manifest that dream. In fact the dream is there as an impetus...

Business Psychology: The Business Athlete!

Business Psychology Organisational and occupational psychologists are increasingly realising that the modern business environment is analogous to the sporting world; both are based fundamentally on performance. For this reason trainers well practised in business psychology, are beginning to utilise approaches cross-fertilised from the world of sport psychology in order to give their “athletes” the edge. In this article we present a checklist for business success based on sport psychology research over the last thirty years. Mental preparation: Visualising your performance environment is an essential practice for competitive athletes. Envisage how you would adapt to different scenarios and hone your expectation about how you would perform. Make the images as bold and multi-sensory as you can. A word of warning though: your brain will reproduce whatever you visualise so refrain from regurgitating negative experiences from the past even if you are imagining how you might have coped differently. Likewise don’t consider negative outcomes, instead focus on the ideal outcome. This way, when it happens it will already be familiar to you. Compete only with yourself: Like a golfer competing against par or a runner trying to break a record- you are your biggest competitor. Most of the comparisons you make with others are false because they are indirect or unfair. For this reason, you are the only true benchmark with which to compare yourself. While you cannot guarantee being the world’s best in any particular domain, you can ensure that you achieve your highest level of performance. Consider your training environment: You might already know from your experiences of using gymnasia that the training environment is key to how we perform. If you feel invigorated by your surroundings then you will be doubly inspired. How much harder do we work in a well-lit, airy, clean, stylish setting with a vibrant social atmosphere? The same is true in business and it...

Time Management Tips: Part 2

Time Management In Time Management Tips Part 1 of this double-header, we introduced the concept of time management and explored the sum of its governing principles. In this second article, we delve a little deeper into the psychology of time management and efficiency. In many instances, the way we manage our time reflects deeply held beliefs and attitudes which characterise us as people. For example, psychologists have reported that there are four underlying psychological reasons for lateness. 4 reasons for lateness These include the fear that we will be left waiting, the desire to create excitement by arriving exactly on time, reticence regarding the activity, or resentment towards the people we are due to meet. Learn how to say “No” Economists speak of the “opportunity cost” for any decision. What this means is that by accepting one choice we are automatically rejecting another. That is why we need to think very carefully before accepting offers because by saying yes to one person we are automatically saying no to another. On many occasions, we need to learn how to say “no” to colleagues, friends, and family members. Of course, these refusals can create dissonance in your relationships with others. So you must endeavour to get the cooperation from the people around you who are actually benefiting from your time management efforts. Touch a piece of paper once The central component of time management is the way that we organize tasks relative to each other. Many experts advocate that we should “only touch each piece of paper once”. What this means is that we waste time by continually stopping and starting activities. Hence, we should aim to complete tasks in one sitting if possible. Also, research shows that interruption robs us of vast amounts of time because it takes a few minutes to find our place again in the said activity....

Time Management Tips: Part 1

Time Management This is a term that we often hear in connection with success and achieving our life’s goals. Indeed, many people consider time management to be synonymous with efficiency. While this describes time management in general terms, there are specific principles that we can learn which will give us the tools to make the best use of our time. Of course, time management is a misnomer: time is constant and cannot be managed as such. What we can manage is our distribution of activity within time. The Pareto Principle A good way to begin our exploration of time management is with the Pareto Principle, which you will no doubt have heard of. It was named by Joseph M. Juran after Vilfredo Pareto; who found that only 20% of the Italian population owned a whopping 80% of the property in Italy. It is also known as the “Law of the Vital Few”. This principle states that 80% of our desired outputs are accomplished with only 20% of our efforts; that which is well focussed. The remaining 80% of our effort results in only 20% of what we achieve. Of course, the 80:20 ratio is arbitrary, the principal merely demonstrates the soul of time management which is to be productive rather than merely busy. Consider these six fundamental dimensions of a person’s life: physical, intellectual, social, career, emotional, and spiritual. Each needs a significant investment of time and yet there is often a poor distribution which favours some needs over others. Consider the high-flying businessman who feels that, despite his success, there is “something missing”. Indeed, if we fail to nurture any aspect of our lives then we are, in effect, ignoring part of ourselves. For this reason, time management requires us to see the bigger picture and consider how the different aspects of our lives inter-relate. Let us consider...
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