Wednesday, April 27, 2011

W is for Willpower


“There is no great talent without great willpower. These twin forces are needed to build the huge monument of an individual glory. Superior men keep their brains in a productive state, just like the knights of old kept their weapons in perfect condition. They conquer laziness, they deny themselves all debilitating pleasures … Willpower can and should be a just cause for pride, much more than talent. Whereas talent develops from the cultivation of a gift, willpower is a victory constantly won again over instincts, over inclinations that must be disciplined and repressed, over whims and kinds of obstacles, over difficulties heroically surmounted.”

--Honore de Balzac

I gotta say, I’m not sure I entirely agree with Balzac on this one. Certainly, willpower is necessary, but alone is it enough to develop a great talent?

What about determination? Persistence? Love?

Or at least some kind of emotional impetus. Given the content of the news, it appears some people are more effectively driven by hate – or fear – than love. But I don’t think you can strip all emotion from a goal and still achieve success.

So willpower, yes, and I suppose you could say determination and persistence are components of willpower. However, you also need the practical motivation that comes from finding individual meaning in whatever you choose to undertake. Showing up is vital. Hard work is vital. But really caring about what you’re trying to achieve is vital, too.

What do you think?


  1. great post. I think love for what you're doing always fuels willpower.

  2. It reads like Balzac is actually describing a major element of what is known as the Law of Believing (works for saint and sinner alike). God says it is the greatest law in the entire world; by it, He spoke light into being. Yet, God also tells us that believing is activated by love...that word "activated" is the same as to ignite or fuel.

    Dear Nutschell, how wise you are indeed - you hit the proverbial nail on the head.


  3. It is truly amazing what a little will power can do, everything from keeping us out a trouble to propelling us to great heights in all aspects of life.