By Jeffrey Hodges
To successfully attain a lofty goal in elite sport – or in any endeavour for that matter – you want to understand and fully appreciate the different levels of motivation and personal ambition, and the driving force underpinning all successful achievement.
Volition – human WILL – is the power that nurtures and maintains all of our physical, emotional and mental actions and behaviours. Even the tiniest movement of the body, or any act of thinking first begins with the will to do so. Without volition we cannot walk, talk, think or work, and even our emotions involve a degree of volition ... to feel anger, or compassion, or boredom, or confidence you first must 'decide' to feel that emotion, rather than another.
So how is your will power?
An important aspect of will is that will involves decision . Ask yourself ... have you decided to achieve your goal, or is it just an idle wish or vague hope that you get it? Have you decided not only on the end result, but also on the process of getting there .... And have you also decided to accept and to do what is required?
Examine your thoughts, feelings and actions regarding your goals. Do you have a clear vision of the exact future you want? Are your goals just something you hope will happen to you? Are they mere wishes based on luck and good fortune coming your way? Is the force of your desire for them easily extinguished by setbacks, or distracted by other activities or people? Have you acted and persisted in your actions in the face of the inevitable challenges, criticisms, doubts and setbacks that have come along? Do you learn and adapt after each attempt and action step? Are you enjoying the journey ?
To merely 'hope' for something is to be a passive victim of the will of others, or to want to be 'lucky' that the whim of circumstance falls your way. To wish for something begins to awaken the will, but wishing is the weakest form of human will, for it is primarily in the imagination and rarely leads to success.
A desire is a stronger wish, which starts to not just engage the mind but also the emotions, and is often followed by fitful efforts to bring it into action... however specific desires can quickly fade or be replaced by other competing desires.
An intention or a determination to act is a more powerful act of will in that it is a strong desire expressed through action for the accomplishment of a specific purpose .... Such an intention however can often be discouraged by challenges, setbacks, opposition or failure to achieve the desired goal as expected or after a few unsuccessful attempts.
The most powerful form of will is a volition – which is inspired by a vividly imagined future outcome, fuelled by a passionate desire to achieve it, and which involves a continuous series of dynamic, undiscourageable determinations and acts until the result is attained.
The mantra of volitive action is "will and act until victory is attained". No matter how challenging the goal, or how impossible it may seem at the moment, the volitive athlete never stops repeating determined, conscious acts of intention to achieve it as long as they live.
Will gradually evolves as we grow, from the automatic 'physiological will' of the new born baby that cries as it tries to remove the discomfort of the first painful breath as the lungs begin their lifetime activity for the first time. The young child then develops 'unthinking will' – that of unquestioningly following and obeying its mother, up until about the age of 2 – 3 years of age at which time it develops its own sense of self, and begins to express resistance when its desires conflict with parental or others' instructions.
In this first act of obstinacy, the child has developed the next stage of its evolving will – that of 'blind will'. The will at this stage is called 'blind' will because if is not usually guided by wisdom... but rather the will is used in an explosive and reckless manner, rarely pursuing any worthwhile purpose and wasting energy and effort on ungoverned appetites and fleeting pastimes.
Eventually, with experience and through recognising the consequences and futility of blind will and the application of discrimination, the youth learns 'thinking will'. If one's thinking will is made to revolve around a definite purpose, it becomes volition.
A powerful will, by its own dynamic force, creates a way for the fulfillment of its intention – understand that the human will is an electromagnetic power that broadcasts vibrations into the ether and nature responds accordingly by creating favourable circumstances.
While the development of will for one's own personal aspirations is important, it is helpful to remember that will derives strength from honest and lofty purposes and through collaboration with others in a desire to advance the good of all.