He was on time but walked out of his office, shook my hand and checked his watch. ‘I’m so stressed’, he said. ‘I’ve got projects, deadlines and priorities coming out of the proverbial. I’m not bringing my A-Game, I know it and the last thing I want is for other people to start to notice it’.

People like my client, James, are constantly looking for shortcuts, secrets and simple ways to get even more done in the same amount of time so they can get in front of the eight ball. If it is a struggle to happen, they beat themselves up for not being able to cope or worse still, put on a mask that pretends all is well in the world.  Their ego protects their reputation and their ‘I got this’ leadership mindset.

Even with the best intentions and stretching of willpower, something will eventually give. It might be your relationships with your kids or your partner, it could be your health and well-being, or it could even be your job or your business. There will be a cost.

* The crowd says, ‘work 60 to 70 hours’ each week because that’s what you do.
* Conditioning from the good old days shouts, ‘work harder’.
* Your parent’s words echo in our ears, ‘if you’re going to do a job do it well’.
* Your manager reminds you the expectations of your role are to ‘be all things to all people’.

But rather than doing all these things that you feel you SHOULD do, what if you got clear on what you really MUST do, instead?

The reality is we can only do what we can do, and if that’s not enough and the environment around you doesn’t change, then what might need to change is your internal outlook on what your reality really is.

This is not about ability or discipline.

And willpower is proven to be an internal resource just like resilience and creativity and intelligence. According to research out of Stanford University, it’s not an endless resource though.  It gets tired. It runs out. It needs to be recharged and we need to respect it and not take it for granted. We can’t expect it to just be there for us on tap, and for us to continuously and consistently rely on it for us to keep going and going and going.

As Gary Keller in his book, ‘The One Thing’ explains, ‘one of the real challenges we have is that when our will power is low we tend to fall back on our default settings.’ So in our roles, do we start to wane and dig deeper or do we just do what we have to do, to do the job? Do we succumb to distraction or do we complete the project? Do we come home for the fifth night in a row without seeing the kids or do we down tools and prioritise what is important?  When your will power is low, what are your default settings?

You see, when we run out of will power and run on empty, our output and results can only be subpar or ordinary at best. So it makes sense then that we do our best prioritising when our tank is full, when our willpower is at capacity like a car running on quality fuel? What is it that you MUST prioritise over what you feel you SHOULD prioritise, for the sake of you and those around you?

Is there a cost?

I had people telling me that my two month absence from publishing articles on LinkedIn would harm my brand, amongst other things. Yes, there was a cost to this inactivity and it was in page views, engagement and connections as a result. But the cost was offset against something very important. Do I spend time with my family and clients and write articles for LinkedIn, or spend time with my family and clients and write a book. The work that mattered most was to write a book.

Did I feel torn? Of course I did. I could have chosen to do all and spread myself too thin and the cost could have been higher – health costs through stress and trying to be all things to all people because that’s what you are supposed to do.  Financial costs through diminished attention to consulting work, research and client engagement.  Relationship costs through less time for my family, and potentially brand costs by putting out rushed and less thought out, lower quality articles.

My point here is to decide what matters most to you and those around you, accept that willpower will carry you only so far in today’s time poor world and learn to say no to some things so you can allow yourself to enjoy those results that really matter the most.
Be Bold, Brave and Brilliant

How My Will Power Ran Out and Why That Matters

Bernadette McClelland is CEO of 3 Red Folders – a modern day saleswoman and keynote speaker on business growth, personal leadership and sales performance.

BIO: Business environments wanting to increase their revenue and profits, and differentiate themselves in a competitive market, ask for Bernadette McClelland because of her thought leadership on sales performance, her ideas on thinking beyond resilience and her fresh perspectives surrounding personal leadership skills — all designed to master the outcomes that matter.

Bernadette has proudly coached Harvard MBA students on their sales enablement curriculum, been the Master Asia Pacific coach for Anthony Robbins across twelve countries, authored five books on leadership and sales transformation, won a coveted Telstra award for Business Excellence, and continually shares her ideas around behaviour, the brain and business growth on stages in the UK, Europe, Thailand, India, NZ, Australia and North America.

Believing that sales performance is a leadership issue, you will also find her heading Melbourne’s human potential based sales performance consultancy, 3 Red Folders, as she navigates lead generation, message to market and digs deep into sales process activities with her clients in the mid-tier sector as well as founding ‘Women Who Sell’, an initiative designed to bring more women up to speed in their sales success.

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Image Courtesy of Dennis Jarvis

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