In sports, we often talk about willpower. And willpower has certainly made a difference in many athletes careers as well as in most of us regular folks' lives. An athlete who has willpower for workouts and practice, also needs it for studies. You can be a good athlete, but if you don't apply yourself in the classroom, you may flunk out of school and end up with a lot less options. On the other hand, a good athlete who applies his or her efforts in the classroom may end up with a scholarship or may be able to succeed in other ways.
But, if you are using willpower alone, you may find yourself running out of gas when the going gets tough. There are other lessons from life that can help.
Good habits ingrain actions that may have taken willpower in past, but now puts them on automatic pilot. The person who thinks too much of the doing the things that need to be done and relies solely on willpower is going to have problems. Good habits lead you to act in positive ways without sweating it.
If parents teach their children to be honest, the kids can take that with them through life.
I remember working at a shopping mall as a teenager. A women bought something at our store, but left without her purse. One of the clerks saw it (he had learned good habits) and without hesitating he alerted the other employees that it was there. A teenager near by heard how the purse was left (who had not developed good habits) and he came over to claim the purse--saying that his mother had left it and told him to come by and see if it was there. Another employee (who was inexperienced) turned it over to him and he promptly headed for the exit. My brother who was also working at the store knew better and yelled at the boy to stop. Within about 30 seconds several of us were chasing the boy down the mall--he finally dropped the purse and escaped.
In church circles, they tell you to avoid the temptation of sin to avoid every kind of evil. I say avoid the "nasty." You may have some forewarning in advance, so keep your head up on this one and save yourself from a lot of misery. When taking that business trip avoid going out with the party crowd especially if the party can provoke other things. A co-worker may be friendly and lively, a good person to sit with at dinner after a long day at a trade show or a meeting, but if you have this sense that it can turn into something else, excuse yourself from going to the dinner--you have something else to which you have to attend.
When you face a situation that seems to drain you of willpower, experiments have shown that you may be likely to give in to something that comes along very soon after the first situation. It reminds me of when you deal with one of your kids who asks you for permission to do something so obviously stupid that you wear yourself out in the argument. But shortly after that argument, another request is made to do something you don't like, but it is less harmful and you give in. You have to keep your head at all times.
I suspect that many parents talk about the "home rules" and get their kids to understand them before they get a bunch of requests that might wear them down. My mother used to tell us that "this is no flop house" that we were not going to come and go at all hours as we got older. On the other hand, our friends were free to come home with us at a reasonable hour and spend the night. This was no small sacrifice on my mother's part as our house was tiny and it meant that there were often several young men often spending the night--sometimes on the dinning room floor and other times playing cards in the kitchen till all hours. But all of us were safe and our friends regardless of their own situation at our home were always welcome at ours.
If you use enough emotional tools it should help you prevail. There are many books today that talk about kids acquiring an emotional toolkit.
There are also many good behaviors and habits that come out of faith based education and training. Of course, bad behavior can come out of faith when it is corrupted by people who misuse it.
Larry Norris is the Publisher of Sporting Chance Press. Readers of this post may like The 10 Commandments of Baseball. The 10 Commandments of Baseball discusses 10 great principles of legendary manager, Joe McCarthy, that have been taught in baseball settings for over 100 years. The book is also produced with great historical photos and many buyers have told us that it is a "keeper" and holds a permanent place in their library.