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How to master willpower & self control

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Out of all the skills in life, willpower and self-control are the most important. Without these two, any other skill becomes nearly impossible to master. 

Three of the best researchers on this subject are Daniel Kahneman, who wrote Thinking Fast and Slow, Charles Duhigg who wrote The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, and Roy F. Baumeister who wrote Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength.

In this SlideShare (part of the Knowledge Share mentoring program), I'll break down the key lessons from each book as well as what I've learned on my personal journey of Willpower & Self-Control mastery. I'll specifically outline how and where Willpower and Self-Control originate and ways you can strengthen your ability to exert these invaluable skills. 

Published in: Self Improvement

How to master willpower & self control

  1. 1. willpower & self-control. Knowledge Share Presentation by Paul C. Brunson
  2. 2. Welcome to Knowledge Share Weekly masterclass of the skills you need to succeed in business and life. Every other week, we focus on a new skill. The skill is taught through an easy to digest 15-minute summary in audio and text of key lessons from three books, access to a LIVE skills workshop, and participation in a private learning community. Knowledge Share proudly uses the one-for- one model. For each member, we provide a “first home library” of 10-20 books in addition to other support for the 1 billion children in the world without books in their homes. Our mission is to LEVEL UP as a community, through knowledge sharing. More at paulcbrunson.com Paul C. Brunson Founder, Knowledge Share
  3. 3. Featured Books in this Masterclass
  4. 4. 6 Most Important Lessons Learned about Willpower & Self-Control
  5. 5. 1 2 3 Lesson 2: Managing self-control requires an understanding of how habits are formed. Lesson 3: Self-control without self-awareness and ego are useless. Lesson 1: Self-control requires attention and effort.
  6. 6. 4 5 6 Lesson 5 Good keystone habits are critical in mastering self-control. Lesson 4 You must continually increase attention and effort. Lesson 6 Self-control is like a muscle and must be constantly trained or tricked.
  7. 7. Self-control requires attention and effort. • There are two major areas of your brain. • System 1 is the part of the brain that works automatically to create intuitions, feelings, impressions, and inclinations. It acts independently of our conscious choice; it is beyond our control. • System 2 is the part responsible for rational and analytical thinking and judgment. It can save us. It can rein in the excesses and errors of System 1. • System 1 is thinking “fast”, while System 2 is thinking “slow”. 01.
  8. 8. System 1 vs System 2 The Difference System 1 Tells You: System 2 Tells You: Reply to the boss’s email with an F*@#! YOU!!!! + letter of resignation. Slow down self. You have bills and responsibilities. You can’t abruptly walk out of this job, no matter if the boss is truly crazy (which he is).
  9. 9. Using System 2 boosts every area of our life • System 1 can only be considered reliable in stable and predictable situations. • System 2 and the self-control it makes possible is critical. • Acting on your rational thoughts opposed to simply your intuition means you’re using System 2. • Without an active System 2, your success is entirely a matter of chance or luck.
  10. 10. Managing self-control requires an understanding of how habits are formed. • A habit has three parts: a cue, routine, and reward. • If you have a habit you want to eliminate, figure out what reward you are seeking and find another, non- destructive routine that will give it to you. • If you can diagnose the habit, you can control your behavior. 02.
  11. 11. Febreze Study How a women with 9 cats changed the course of a product • P&G discovered many people who most needed Febreze could no longer smell the unpleasant odors that surrounded them. • The company changed the cue that would trigger the habit of using Febreze from wanting to cover up specific bad smells to simply wanting to finish a recently cleaned room with a generally fresh scent. • This change in tactic based on understanding a habit, transformed Febreze from a failing product into an incredibly successful one.
  12. 12. Components of a habit • Cue: Triggers the brain that it is time for the routine. • Routine: Can be physical, mental, or emotional. Is the automatic response to Cue. • Reward: Tells your brain you like the routine and therefore want to do it again.
  13. 13. Reward Routine Cue Paul’s 10-year Habit Loop
  14. 14. Reward Routine Cue Paul’s 10-year Habit Loop
  15. 15. If you can diagnose the habit, you can control your behavior
  16. 16. Self-control without self-awareness and ego are useless. • Without self-awareness, we don’t know what it is that we need our willpower to achieve. • In combination with self-awareness, having an ego is key. • Ego-depletion has terribly damaging effects, including death. 03.
  17. 17. 4 Fundamental Questions of Self-Awareness Who are you? Where are you now? Where are you going? Why?
  18. 18. Ego Depletion & How To Prevent It A Lesson From Steve Jobs
  19. 19. You must continually increase attention and effort.• Without focus, your decision is less likely to be the best one. • To gain focus you must call your System 2…BUT at the right time. • If having a problem focusing, recognize the signs you are in a cognitive minefield. 04.
  20. 20. How to focus • System 2 is the part that helps you rationally think about a situation. • Focusing frequently and consistently depletes your mental energy at first (ego- depletion), but as you become more practiced you will find “its demand for energy diminished”. • I apply this rule by talking to myself whenever I’m in a situation when I’m not logically thinking out a problem • Keeping your glucose levels stable will also help keep your System 2 alert and agile.
  21. 21. Impact of Low Glucose Levels
  22. 22. Good keystone habits are critical in mastering self-control. • Keystone habits have a positive effect on your self-discipline and many other areas of your life. • People often have one bad keystone habit that if they extinguish, will make it much easier to eradicate other negative habits. • Negative keystone habits tend to support bad habits and routines, while positive ones tend to support good ones. 05.
  23. 23. A Keystone Habit “Small wins’” create structures that support other habits. To extinguish a bad keystone habit, carefully think about what cravings and cues are driving it, and look for an alternative routine. For example, if you check email when you feel anxious about work, change your routine to meditating for five minutes instead.
  24. 24. Self-control is like a muscle and must be constantly trained or tricked. •Willpower and self-control become progressively stronger through continued use. • An important part of training that muscle is understanding the power of routine. • There are tricks you can play on yourself to make using willpower easier, especially at the beginning. 06.
  25. 25. How to train your willpower and self-control muscle Create positive routines in your life. Positive and productive routines benefit your life. Always keep your surroundings organized and tidy. Use subtle tricks such as changing how you thinks about a problem. A powerful trick is to tell yourself “later” rather than “never” when you want to give into some sort of temptation that you want to avoid (an example would be a delicious slice of cake when you’re trying to lose weight). It has been found that it’s much easier for people to exert self-control if they think they’ll be rewarded with what they really want later. “Bright lines” will also help to boost your self-control. Bright lines are rules that you simply never break. Having this sense of boundary and limitation will make it easier for you to create positive habits even when you are experiencing ego-depletion. Believe in a higher power, entity, or cause greater than yourself. This has been shown to help people improve their willpower and self-discipline. You don’t need to be or become religious to do this. Simply dedicating yourself to a cause can do the trick.
  26. 26. 6 Most Important Lessons Learned about Willpower & Self-Control
  27. 27. 1 2 3 Lesson 2: Managing self-control requires an understanding of how habits are formed. Lesson 3: Self-control without self-awareness and ego are useless. Lesson 1: Self-control requires attention and effort.
  28. 28. 4 5 6 Lesson 5 Good keystone habits are critical in mastering self-control. Lesson 4 You must continually increase attention and effort. Lesson 6 Self-control is like a muscle and must be constantly trained or tricked.
  29. 29. Featured Books in this Masterclass
  30. 30. Willpower & Self-Control are foundational skills. Once you have developed these skills, you are in a stronger position to develop and master others.

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