Finding The Power of Your True Will

Finding The Power of Your True Will

The difference between true will and false will is rarely explored in conversations about leadership, yet this distinction is vital as it helps differentiate responsible leadership from the norm. 

False Will 

We all know how false will feels.  It’s often connected to specific targets, goals and objectives that are imposed on us externally, for example by a manager or organization.  We then identify with those objectives and attach our self-esteem to achieving them. If we succeed we feel validated or just simply relieved! However, if we fail we feel devastated. We may feel as if we are less effective than others, our self-esteem drops and sometimes we even feel like failures as human beings. 

As a result, one of the signs that we are using false will, is the constant presence of our inner critic that judges us, torments us and threatens us with dire consequences if we don’t succeed. The fuel of false will is fear. 

Drawing on false will every day is exhausting. It feels like a fight to get anything done – we are fighting the system and we are fighting ourselves. At the end of the day we feel depleted and our heart sinks in the knowledge that tomorrow will probably be the same. 

True Will 

True will is different. It emerges from a connection to our inner power, to our ‘why’. When we are connected to our ‘why’, enacting our will feels natural, effortless and enjoyable.  One very senior leader of one of the biggest IT companies in the world, recently told me his ‘why’. This was “positively impacting the lives of people I meet, every day”. This is a great example of a ‘why’ statement. 

Firstly, it links to his values. So the energy is coming from within, not from outside. 

Secondly, it is not a target, goal or objective. It can’t be measured. You can’t fail at it. It just bubbles up naturally and manifests in different ways with different people and contexts. 

When you are connected to true will, you feel grounded, determined and confident. At the same time true will is flexible, calm, humble and open to learning.  There’s a deep inner sense of knowing that what you are doing is right. You also have this inner knowing that you have the ability to be successful. Finally, you don’t have to strive, as true will gives you energy rather than depleting you. 

How to Connect to True Will

Most of us become disconnected to our true will due to the conditioning we receive when we are young. We learn that who we are and what we want is somehow unacceptable. So we create a false self which both protects us and promises us success because we are complying with what others (parents, teachers, peers, social media, society) want us to be.

Our true will does pop up regularly but to live in our true will, many of us have to go on an arduous journey (sometimes known as the hero’s journey) to discover who we truly are. 

One place to start is finding your ‘why’.  Here are some questions that may help:

  • Can you tune into any feelings of longing, desiring or wishing for something different? 
  • Do you have a sense of ‘calling’ that you may have ignored? 
  • Maybe you feel a sense of dissatisfaction – you have lots of problematic questions like ‘is this all there is?’ or ‘I’ve got what I wanted, so why am I so fed up?’

Many of us ignore these kinds of feelings because they feel uncomfortable and threatening to our status quo. But in order to find our ‘why’ we need to tune into them and stay with them. We need to explore what they are saying to us. 

  • Do you have a gift or talent that many people notice and compliment you for?
  • What makes your heart sing?
  • Can you describe any experiences of flow or of joy in your life – not necessarily at work. 
  • Write down your answers to these questions.  Do you notice any common themes?

Often people do not want to face into these kinds of questions because, even if they are positive, they feel disruptive. We sense that they may make us want to give up everything we have achieved up to this point. 

However, the point of these questions is not necessarily to disrupt the present (though you may find that you want to make changes!). It is to help you disidentify from roles, jobs, tasks and objectives that have nothing to do with your true self.  

You may find that you carry on with your job but, in connecting with your true self, you find meaning in different areas of your life – being a parent, volunteering or a hobby. 

The problem comes when we identify with our work role. Then fear or anxiety pressurizes us into putting all our energy (or false will) into achieving somebody else’s objectives. We then end up living somebody else’s life. Our true will wants us to live our own! Only then can we become responsible leaders.

About the Author: Karen Blakeley

Karen Blakeley

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