What is more important ability or will

Volition: Willpower is more important than intelligence for success

We all strive for goals. Our volition decides whether we achieve this. Numerous scientists today agree: Volition is THE success factor in general - more important than motivation or intelligence. Ability is a decisive factor in whether we take action and persistently pursue our intentions, ideas or wishes. Even against resistance. Volition combines determination with an absolute will to implement. And willpower can - for the most part - be trained like a muscle. Tips on how to achieve more in life ...

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

Definition: what does volition mean?

Volition (German: willpower, implementation strength) is the ability to put your ideas, intentions or wishes into practice in a targeted and focused manner, so that they lead to concrete results and successes. The term describes a process of self-control and the willful implementation of (self-imposed) goals - even across resistance and barriers to action. That is why volition is often translated as “willpower”. The word itself is derived from the Latin verb “velle”, which translates as “want” or “wish”.

Typical synonyms for volition are willpower, the will to implement, perseverance, perseverance, iron will, determination, determination or bite. Opposite to volition is weak will, also called akrasia.

Results thanks to Volition

Volition - as bulky as the term sounds - is a key success factor and an enormously underestimated strength. The term is used in two different areas:

  • In management Volition describes the process of "will formation" (goal setting, planning) and "will enforcement" (organization, control) of a company.
  • In personality psychology On the other hand, it describes the “willpower” that is necessary to overcome resistance, doubts, feelings of displeasure or conflicting goals.

“Just” wanting something is often not enough. Only the volition leads to results. As early as 1910, the German psychologist Narcissus Kaspar Ach stated in his treatise "On the Will" that the "degree of effectiveness" of volition provides information about the success of human action - especially when it comes to overcoming resistance.

Volition is more than just motivation

Our motivation is at the beginning of every endeavor. We have an idea, a goal, a wish. Until then, however, it is little more than an intention. Motivation and volition are close relatives. But only the implementation strength leads to success. Jeffrey Pfeffer, a professor at Stanford University, speaks of the “knowing-doing gap” in this context: a lot of knowledge and good ideas do not have to produce innovations until we implement them. And overcome your "inner weaker self".

There are often a number of barriers to motivation: Anxiety, listlessness, distractions, aimlessness. Instead of doing the ironing, the favorite series is watched. Instead of studying for the exam, they gamble on Playstation and so on. Typical cases of procrastination, colloquially "procrastination". Volition is needed to overcome these internal and external obstacles.

Rubicon model: from motivation to result

But how do you get from motivation to result? The motivational psychologists Heinz Heckhausen and Peter M. Gollwitzer have developed the so-called Rubicon model for this purpose. It describes in four phases how motivation becomes action and ultimately goal achievement:

  1. Weighing (pre-decisional phase)
    In this early phase, goals are first developed. We weigh up how great the opportunities and risks are and whether the wishes can be realized. Time and money are often central factors in the calculation. In some cases there is just a vague feeling at first. In this case, the Zurich Resource Model helps to channel feelings and formulate goals.
  2. Planning (post-decisional / pre-action phase)
    The planning phase looks at how the goal can be achieved as efficiently as possible. It is about concrete steps of implementation. The planning phase marks the transition from motivation to volition.
  3. Action (action phase)
    In the action phase, what is necessary to achieve the goal is implemented. With strong volition, those affected are maximally focused and concentrated on their goal. Nothing distracts you. At the same time, this phase is the most physically and mentally demanding. Despite flow states, regular breaks should not be forgotten.
  4. Assess (post-action phase)
    At the end, the result is evaluated using a target / actual comparison. We may have to correct or optimize sub-steps. But it is much more important to learn from the process for the future. That makes us even more successful in the long term.

Formulate goals: Use the SMART method

You can use the so-called SMART method to formulate your goals. The focus is on assessing your own goals as realistically as possible and setting reasonable deadlines. The SMART method was developed in 1956 and is an acronym. It is:

  • Specific
    Goals should be described as specifically as possible.
  • Measurable
    Orientate yourself on measurable facts.
  • Attractive
    Plan in such a way that you also feel like doing it.
  • Realistic
    What you set out to do must of course also be feasible.
  • On schedule
    That means planning the tasks in a timely manner. So roughly: I want to earn ten percent more by the end of the year.

Success factor volition: more important than intelligence

Although the term is unknown to most people, volition is perhaps the most important success factor of all. It combines determination with implementation skills. “I bet there isn't a single successful person who doesn't have this quality,” says psychologist Angela Duckworth from the University of Pennsylvania, for example. She is one of the luminaries in this field and is convinced: "Nobody is so talented that he does not have to fight for his success - and Volition helps enormously with this."

The inventor of the Stanford intelligence test, Lewis Terman, comes to a similar conclusion. For decades he followed the development of particularly talented and successful students - and discovered that intelligence is overrated, persistence had the significantly greater impact on a person's success.

Don't give up - overcome resistance

But is it really that simple? The secret of success - it is not so much a matter of intelligence, talent, top training and know-how, but rather quite simply: not to give up, to fight your way through - no matter what happens? In fact, there are now some researchers who hold this opinion and can substantiate volitional success with scientific data. For example Howard Gardner, a renowned psychology professor at Harvard University. For example, he analyzed the résumés of the greatest and most successful geniuses, from Einstein to Picasso to Ghandi. Result: They all have one thing in common - willpower or determination.

All of these people set and set goals and pursue them in a disciplined and determined manner. Until success. Outwardly, this can sometimes even lead to contradicting behavior. Volition also means:

  • - depending on requirements - to decide quickly or to take your time to think about it. In both cases, however, consciously and goal-oriented.
  • to think carefully about why we want something that drives us deeply.
  • to train and cultivate the flexibility to deviate from goals that have already been set. For example, when we realize that they are unrealistic or based on external expectations.

Volition test: how big is your willpower?

If you are wondering whether you too have this success, you can take a short Volition test here. It does not make any scientific claims. But we had it checked and optimized by two psychologists. You have four answer options for each of the following statements:

  • A = fully applies
  • B = less applicable
  • C = hardly applies
  • D = does not apply at all

To take the test online, you can either take notes - or you can download the Volition test here as a free PDF. You will find the evaluation at the end of the questionnaire.

Evaluation of the Volitions test

Now assign points to your answers: For questions from 1 to 10: A = 4 points, B = 3 points, C = 2 points, D = 1 point; for questions from 11 to 16: A = 1 point, B = 2 points, C = 3 points, D = 4 points. Then add all the points together and compare the result with the following scale:

5 tips: how to train your volition

The good news is: Volition can be trained and improved. According to psychology, five characteristics play a central role - the so-called "volition skills":

1. Knowing how to focus

To concentrate on the essentials (in the job) and not to get bogged down - this is a problem for many people. However, this ability has a decisive influence on fortune or fiasco. Confucius has a nice saying about this: “If you hunt two rabbits at the same time, you won't catch any of them.” If you focus on the other hand, you focus on a conscious (!) Goal and dedicate yourself to it with all your strength, energy and passion to achieve it in the end. It is not enough to train and strengthen cognitive abilities with a few concentration exercises. Rather, focus is the purposeful and deliberate orientation towards a specific goal. Such focused people are not only extremely persistent and stubborn, they can also hardly be distracted or discouraged.

2. Mental strength

It is not uncommon for us to decide in our head whether we are more on the winning or the losing side. None of us is immune from setbacks and defeats. While some stay where they are or throw their guns in the grain, others get up, dust off their clothes and carry on - differently, better. In psychology, the term “self-efficacy” is often used in this context. What is meant by this is the confidence in one's own performance and the confidence to be able to overcome obstacles of all kinds. This is reminiscent of the mantras of positive psychology and the notorious you-can-do-anything-you-want-chakka. But it's not that easy. Mental strength is not just a simple declaration of will with subsequent wish fulfillment. To achieve it, you need both: talent and training.

3. Confidence

The third important volition skill is self-confidence. This is by no means innate or not, but can be trained. If you want to become more self-confident (in the literal sense of the word), you should first get to know yourself better and correct the often distorted self-image. This eventually leads to self-acceptance. Because only those who can accept themselves as they are can also develop self-confidence and become more self-confident. Such a person believes in their own competencies, knows about their strengths and abilities and knows how to achieve their own goals. A self-confident person is also able to represent their interests and also protect them from other people. She's not afraid to speak her mind openly.

4. Self-discipline

Self-discipline is perhaps the most Prussian of all volitional skills. Its image is correspondingly aged: stiff, old-fashioned, about as cheerful as marching music. But the idea of ​​the easy, fast path from dishwasher to millionaire is just a myth. A dream that is often illustrated by people who are already millionaires. What is ignored, however, are the many hard years of courage, privation, defeat, persistent commitment and perseverance before it. Talents are often not that unevenly distributed - the differences lie in diligence and perseverance. Are you familiar with the Navy Seals' 40 percent rule? It reads: “If you think that it is no longer possible, you have only reached 40 percent of your efficiency. It is not your physical fitness that decides, but your psychological fitness. ”This primarily refers to self-discipline. So no outside control, but rather a form of conscious self-regulation and self-control.

5. Problem-solving skills

The fifth essential volition competence is problem-solving competence. There is no goal, no project, no task where you are not faced with some problem or obstacle at some point - sometimes bigger, sometimes smaller. Strong-willed people are not only characterized by the fact that they are hardly intimidated or stopped by such resistance. They also find ways out or around them - or improvise a little. Or as the bon mot rightly says: “If you want something, you will find ways; if you don't want something, you will find reasons. ”Coordinated problem solving is still the best way to quickly and reliably arrive at a suitable result. The so-called STAR method, which can also be modified to solve problems, has proven itself.

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