My earliest influences came from learning about patience, perseverance and a strong will. These three virtues are essential for success in anything. The will is the focus of this article.
Does having a strong will mean going through life with the furrowed brow and stopping at nothing to get what you want?
If your definition of “stopping at nothing” means regardless of who or what is in your way, and stepping on others to get to the top, I guarantee you’ll find a very lonely place if you get there.
Same goes for using your will to “force others” to do anything. There’s a saying, “A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.” You can force people to do things, but they’ll never truly be with you and you know the old adage of karma, “What goes around, comes around.”
Is that really any way to go through life?
The way to use the will is on your own thoughts and actions. Once you decide what it is you want the way to get it is to consciously control your thoughts and actions. Stop wasting time on anything inconsistent with your vision.
Use your will to avoid wasting whatever leisure time you have. Be careful about time spent watching TV or listening to the radio. These images and sounds shape your perspective and fill your mind with more negative noise. Take control of what goes in.
Use leisure time to do the work on yourself and take the necessary actions to pursue what you want. Use this time to control your thoughts and develop the vision you have for yourself. See it exactly as you want it to be. Over time it will become clearer and more detailed. Watch it when your thoughts go against your vision and doubts enter your mind. Don’t let it. When you find yourself thinking negatively in any way, use your will to stop it. Your negative thoughts aren’t helping anybody and they’re hurting you.
The practice of kung fu is an excellent way to do the work on yourself. Use your will to get to class even when you don’t feel like it. When you have a few minutes at work, instead of taking part in the gossip around the water cooler, you can go through some loosening up exercises, throw some palm strikes, or just hold a few stances. Or, just sit quietly.
An hour lunch can include 10-30 minutes of practice. Bring your lunch so it can be healthier and more convenient, saving you time. Spend a few minutes in meditation before you eat. Do a little research and see if you can find a little private space somewhere, anywhere that works for you, inside or outside. Your work time will become much more productive and even enjoyable.
Consistent practice over time builds self-belief and confidence. Use your will to keep you on track and in the moment, completely engaged in whatever it is you are doing NOW. Don’t just go through life, live it!
Originally Published April, 2005