Sports and Freewill

As I've stated before, there are 3 components of player development: genes, freewill, and environment. Last week, I wrote about the impact of genes and how to have a good attitude about genes. Today, I will focus on one of the other components of player development: freewill.

Freewill, and other similar concepts such as willpower and an internal locus of control, refers to your ability to personally control your destiny. It is your ability to think and behave to shape the world around you and reach your goals. Some people believe in the power of freewill, while others don’t. Some people wait and see if the world happens to unfold the way they want to while other people take initiative and make it happen. Some people undervalue the importance of freewill and willpower because there are many things that are uncontrollable in life on an individual level, such as natural disasters and the economy. However, even though you can’t control everything in life, you still get to control how you interpret and respond to events.

Here are some examples of great willpower:
  • Deciding to wake up early everyday to be productive.
  • Resisting temptations such as unethical behavior and junk food.
  • Doing one more repetition despite being fatigued.
  • Keeping a positive attitude after defeat.
  • Moving to a city that is better suited for you and your goals.
Successful people have an internal locus of control, meaning they believe that they themselves mainly control their outcomes, not external forces. They take responsibility for their lives. They believe that their personal decisions matter. Since they are confident in their ability to improve themselves, they are more motivated to actually do it. 

As you can see, having this attitude on freewill is very helpful. It helps give you the willpower needed to reach your goals. People who don't believe in freewill or have more of an external locus of control do not have as much willpower, therefore they are less likely to become successful. You can't just rely on having good genes and being in a good environment to succeed. You also need to make smart decisions and have a strong work ethic. Improving your work ethic and willpower starts with having a better attitude about these concepts. With a foundation of healthy beliefs about freewill and work ethic, you can then build upon it with effort and good habits. Improving your work ethic is very difficult, because it takes constant fuel (motivation) to keep the fire (productivity) going. Gradually you get used to putting in more effort and your work ethic improves. You can also develop habits such as waking up early and positive thinking that improve your work ethic.

Theoretically, humans have so much potential. Every day, people make thousands of decisions, such as when to wake up, what to do, how to do it, where to go, and who to be with. Over time these decisions add up. After years, these decisions accumulate into the millions, if not, billions. Imagine if 100% of these decisions were directed toward your highest goals. Imagine how successful, happy, and improved you would be. Even if 50% of these decisions were positive and productive, you'd still end up with a great life. This is the power of freewill. But this is only theoretical. In reality, most people don't take full advantage of their freewill. Perhaps less than 50% of their overall decisions in life are productive. Most of them may be directed towards laziness, pleasure, comfort, convenience, and selfishness. This is because most people don't cultivate enough motivation to strive for greatness. It's very hard. Most people would rather take their easier road. However, it doesn't have to be this way. It is possible to maximize your freewill and work ethic. This is very challenging, but it can be done. It is your choice. Next week, I will write about the last component of athletic development: environment.