Willpower Is Your Secret Weapon

Magazine Contributor
Former Editor in Chief
3 min read

This story appears in the July 2015 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Every day, entrepreneurs restore my faith in humanity. This may sound grandiose, but it’s not meant to. Even on the worst news day, when the world seems to be falling into a dark vortex, one call with an entrepreneur can make me feel more upbeat.

“I have this idea and I can’t stop thinking about it, so I am going for it! Why am I doing this? Ha! Because I believe in this, and one day, so will everyone else. You’ll see, it’s going to be great,” is the general theme of these calls.

We hear stories. Lots of stories. Entrepreneurial dreamers tell us tales of new ideas and reimagined ways of thinking. We hear about empowerment and innovation, risk and reward. Some ideas are so far-fetched I’m left wondering, How can this possibly work? And some are so obvious I scratch my head and ask, Why didn’t I think of that?

When I talk to those entrepreneurs who dream big and optimistically (generally against all odds), I am not only inspired, I am humbled. Infectious optimism is key here, but there’s something more to what drives that spirit. It’s something far more erudite than an MBA, a spreadsheet and a triple latte.

It’s that thing that pushes you to the next level despite setbacks. It’s that grit that drives Serena Williams to the next win. It’s what compels Lindsey Vonn to race again—even after a horrific injury. It defies logic. It defies science. It’s willpower.

Through sheer force of will and human spirit, entrepreneurs breathe life into impossible ideas—sometimes from seemingly impossible circumstances. That’s what drives change and creates opportunity. That’s what you do—make the impossible not only possible but also effective and accessible. Sometimes, in order to cross the finish line you need to rely not on your skill and training but on your sheer will to do so.

Like many of the topics we discuss in these pages, willpower is a soft science. But as author Joe Robinson points out in his feature story, it can make or break your ability to succeed, to create something sustainable—to raise capital, generate customers and have lasting impact. Willpower is that inner fire that gets you past the naysayers, obstacles, challenges and inevitable failures. It is your secret weapon. No one can give it to you, and no one can take it away. It is yours and yours alone. Use it as you see fit.

As honorable as willpower is, it can be applied to the creation of some indulgent entrepreneurial ventures. In this issue, we take a look at vice businesses as reflected through the virtuous mirror of willpower. We examine the brashness and tenacity of entrepreneurs managing to flourish in the burgeoning yet legally gray area of cannabis marketing. We highlight the discipline and resolve necessary to innovate and succeed in the eternally risky world of bar ownership. And we look at the delicate dance of mixing business with pleasure while on the road.

It all comes down to drive, which urges us to take risks on our way to triumph, and to have a bit of fun—tempered by a healthy dose of self-control—along the way.

We hope you find it compelling. As always, we look forward to your feedback. Cheers.


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