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38 of 42 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good ideas, a really worthwhile read
I have read 1000's of books on the subject of success, law of attraction, motivation and wealth creation. I have been a business consultant, serial entrepreneur and motivational coach for a number of years. As such I have read many good and extremely poor books on motivation and willpower.

This book falls into the category of well worth reading and is a...
Published on 7 Mar 2012 by C. M. Cotton

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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A bit of a test of willpower
I really wanted to like this book. It's a popular science book about research into the concept of will-power -apparently an idea which fell out of favour among psychologists for ages, but is now coming back into favour. I'd heard of Roy Bauermeister's research and know that he's a groundbreaking expert in the field. Similarly, I've read articles by James Tierney which...
Published on 15 Mar 2012 by J. Charlesworth


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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 1 Jun 2012
By 
S. Pawley - See all my reviews
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A review on the back cover calls this book `a fascinating account of the exciting new science of self-control'. That is rather misleading: above all, this is a self-help book. The core advice is almost certainly familiar. It focuses on the same issues as most books in the genre: quitting smoking, losing weight, better budgeting, being more organized. And the basic elements of the advice are unlikely to be new: if you want to succeed, clearly define specific goals, monitor your progress, and try to make changes gradually rather than suddenly, so that they become ingrained habits.

There is some science here - mostly descriptions of psychology experiments, but they are presented in a rather superficial way, and the science behind them is not explored in any depth (numerous references to these studies are included, though, so one could look some of them up if one were moved to do so). Besides that, there are accounts of how various celebrities developed willpower in order to overcome certain challenges. I did not find these anecdotes very engaging.

Overall, this is a disappointing book. It claims to offer new insights into psychology, but they are not contextualized or developed in enough depth to be of much interest. The focus is on the practical implications of this science for how people can improve themselves. (By the way, improving oneself means being slim, fit, wealthy and successful at work - the authors do not question whether pursuing these goals makes people any happier, they simply accept them as universal aspirations, although they qualify this once or twice by acknowledging that there is more to life than money). The practical advice on self-improvement says nothing that has not been said a thousand times before.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well worth reading, 4 April 2012
By 
Pat Campbell (UK) - See all my reviews
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This is one of those book that makes you really stop and think. I'm studying psychology and I am very interested in the world of self-help techniques and have been interested in various brain-training techniques such as The Law of Attraction, The Lightning Process, Life Coaching, NLP, Self-Hypnosis, Meditation, EFT etc etc. This book looks at willpower which really means in this sense self-control. We are constantly distracted from our purpose by temptations and we often fall at the first or second hurdle because we are drawn to distraction and temptations. That's why very often New Year Resolutions don't work, or weight-loss or stopping drinking or smoking. We can read all the self-help books in the world but if we have no or little self-control we will fail each time. Baumeister has really picked up on this area of study and gives examples throughout the book with scientific back-up. The Victorians were better at self-control as they were brought up in a Christian, moral environment, we are less self-disciplined and our lives are filled with modern distractions like the internet, mobile 'phones and TV games. We can always find something to lead us from the path we should be following.

We are here to get on with things but somehow we stray away from our chosen goal and various studies have backed this up. This said the idea is to show us how to stay on track. Baumeister believes that our situation is heavily dependent on the time of day. As we are bombarded all day long with temptations, that cream cake, the extra cigarette, the ten minutes on Facebook, then as our willpower is tested and depleted, as it are our levels of glucose. As the day progresses we are less able to resist temptation. Look at people who come home, pour a glass of Scotch, pop that microwave dinner in the oven and slob out on the sofa? Decisions are harder to make as the day progresses and judgements are really tested.

I can tune into most of what Baumeister and Tierney say and I would certainly like to put some of their ideas into practice. There's a list of things not to do and ample examples of why certain things like Alcoholics Anonymous work and most diets don't.

A good read.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It could improve your success rate, 18 Mar 2012
By 
L. Goldsmith (Featherstone) - See all my reviews
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This is an excellent book, written by a psychologist and a journalist, a great combination, which gives the book high readability as well as authority.
Baumeister's and Tierney's findings on willpower are based on a set of empirical evidence, found mainly in Baumeister's laboratory. He subjected quite a lot of people to various tests over a lengthy period and, in a few words, their main finding is that willpower is like a muscle: the more you use it, the stronger it gets.
The first two steps to regaining self-control is to set a higher goal and start monitoring your bahaviour in respect to that goal. Up until now, I had no idea just what a powerful tool for self-betterment monitoring was. It's not weird that we lose weight when we track down what we eat, how much we exercise, how well we sleep etc. It increases just that one ingredient of success, high self-awareness.
The section about favouring self-control over self-esteem in children was particularly enlightening. In the West, we bring children up giving continuous praise and constantly worrying about their self-esteem. The authors argue that the risk in this is developing a toxic narcissism in children that will prove to be really unhelpful when they reach adulthood. In the East, parents encourage self-control in children, which, over a thirty-two-year experiment in New Zealand, proved that kids who can delay gratification while keeping an eye on a higher goal tend to do better in life than the ones who go for immediate gratification.
A good way of encouraging self-control in children, the authors claim, is to show them what control is, by you being the one in control over them during their childhood. While this can't be a bad thing, I'm slightly puzzled though: how can you teach them self-control, if you teach them the opposite, ie how to rely on someone else for making decisions for them and being there when the going gets tough?
Another very interesting point about willpower is that it acts like an energy and it can get depleted after restless use. In people who have to make important and numerous decisions throughout the day, a certain decision fatigue can settle and the 'what-the-hell' effect can take place. This is how otherwise very intelligent people can fall into the decision fatigue trap with disastrous consequences.
My personal conclusion from the book is that willpower takes up a lot of energy and mental effort to maintain and even more so to improve. A lot of things need to be just right in your life to leave room for strong willpower. It's all worth the effort though.
Highly recommended. It will make you rethink a few things about yourself as well as your long-term goals and how to approach them. Easy and quick to read, one of the most enjoyable non-fiction books I have read for years.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sometimes obvious advice, but worth the reminder, 10 Feb 2012
By 
Ms. Felicia Davis-burden (Staines, UK) - See all my reviews
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I thoroughly enjoyed this study of what (or whatever) it takes to control urges that might upset a person's life. The authors discuss topics which could be said to occupy the 'really obvious', but the discussion and conclusions reached are so interesting that the advice becomes more valuable and imbued with naked common sense.

Habits thought to be entirely the choice of the individual often turn out to be the result of internal issues beyond their control. I must admit that the sections on Hypoglycemia and PMS ring all too true: During the worst of a PMS or 'Hypo' episode, I could reach too frequently for the biscuits or overspend to placate whatever beast was controlling me. However, I would like to report to the authors that low-GI foods had no effect whatsoever on my PMS. Going on the Pill wiped it out!

There's plenty of good advice: Prioritise, limit your goals and choices to a realistic few, and so on. Too much choice can fatigue the brain, as supermarket psychologists know very well. See all those sweets and chocolates by the check-out? They're not just there for decoration, you know!

The authors also make fascinating reference to the dangers of turning inwards to one's self; how self-esteem can become narcissism, for instance. Surrendering to a 'higher power' might be the answer - we are reminded of Eric Clapton's emotional journey - even if you are a life-long agnostic like author and fellow former-alcoholic Mary Karr.

This is definitely a usefull book if you are trying to understand your own weaknesses and feel that maybe, finally, enough is enough. It is entertainingly written, a 'self-help' book without falsely claiming its success-rate!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 21 July 2014
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This review is from: Willpower: Why Self-Control is the Secret of Success (Paperback)
Great book opens your mind to things you have never realised !!
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I just don't think it's something you can teach., 19 Jun 2012
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The Truth "How it is" (UK) - See all my reviews
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As someone who considers themselves to have an iron will I thought I'd give this book a whirl. I don't normally read 'self help' books but thought I'd give it a go as it seemed to be about a subject which interests me greatly, and which I genuinely believe is key to a successful life and people turning their lives around if they have problems or things they want to change.

Knowing the importance of willpower and possessing it myself, I'd hoped this book would help me discover news ways to make mine even stronger. However, upon reading it I remain unconvinced. I think you either have willpower or you don't. That's not to say, if you don't have it now you will never posses it, but I think it is a mindset that comes about through radical enlightenment - an epiphany, if of sorts - rather than from a book such as this.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Made me lose the will to read it. Boring quotes, lots of name-dropping of unknown persons, lots of studies. Not the self-help.., 16 May 2012
By 
ROROBLU'S MUM "ROROBLU'S MUM" (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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...guide that I'd been hoping for, unfortunately.

This is not a book for Mrs Average, aka Me. I'm a working mum, I have 3 cats, a husband who's in constant physical pain, an elderly mum, and 'Me' always seems to take a back-seat. I'd love to find the willpower and time and routine to exercise not only to get healthier, but to lose a bit of weight, and I SO hoped that this book might give me some helpful techniques/mental exercises (like the ones taught in CBT, which I am going to use instead). Instead, it quoted endless studies, but gave no practical, logical suggestions.

It name-dropped many American actors/the likes, none of whom I'd heard of, and told of their Eureka moments. It told me about my student son's habits (lack of daily showers, lack of daily teeth-brushing, lack of putting on the washing-machine on a regular basis - which actually = laziness+lack of Me nagging him. Isn't this a bog-standard for male students [though this book did not actually specify the students' sex]? It did touch on dieting/not dieting, but seemed to contradict itself and I found myself thinking that I'm old enough not to need to be taught to suck eggs.

I am sorry to say that it came across as being written by a couple of pompous academics, who don't actually live in the real world, where simply everyday, real life intrudes in what we'd all like to be able to achieve. Like I said, I lost the will to read this, but it kind of worked in a way, as I've pulled out a couple of CBT exercises to implement (Thought Analysis, mainly, the 'why' technique), and, I'm already thinking about a brisk walk tomorrow morning, if it's not pouring with rain...if it is, I might just stay in and get on the stepper, whilst reading another book, for pleasure, this time!
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable, informative and thoughtful., 14 May 2012
By 
A. I. McCulloch "Andrea" (Co Durham) - See all my reviews
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What I enjoyed most about this book was that it was refreshingly free of deep intellectual psychobabble, relying instead on interesting and informative case studies to make the very relevant points. So much time is given over to the concept of rewarding and boosting children's self-esteem for example, to encourage them.
The very relevant point is made that this does nothing to encourage real progress and does not motivate children to move beyond their reach.
If children are constantly praised for what they do, regardless of the merits, they may refuse to extend themselves, being frightened of failing for the first time - or may bask in their mediocrity, without ever realising their shortcomings.
TV talent shows are full of the over-praised. It isn't a comfortable experience to watch them.
It needs willpower to break out of the comfort zone, both for child and carer. The above is just one example of dozens threaded through this very readable and enjoyable book.
It's a very good read not just for parents, but for all those struggling to reach goals or struggling to motivate others to achieve/improve/gain self - control - bosses, managers, trainers, teachers, tutors... the list goes on.
Highly recommended.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Really good book!, 15 Feb 2012
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I found this book to be brilliant to read. The introduction gets you hooked over the importance of willpower and how it effects nearly every part of your life. Then it also touches on applications of controlling willpower in scenarios such as to stop smoking or techniques to try when bringing up your children. I lent it to my dad, who is recovering from an operation, and he also found it a great read to channel his energy.

In fairness, there are some parts of the book that seem to go off on a tangent and into deep stories about random people that seem a bit irrelevant so you might want to skip those parts.

Other than that, the books is well structured and easy read.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars worked for me.... now must get round to applying it, 7 Feb 2012
By 
Don Panik (Cambridge UK) - See all my reviews
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This is interesting book, that blends the solid psychological research background of Baumeister with the more populist style of Tierney the journalist. They take a while to get going, but I guess it is useful to reflect on the way we have thought about the notion of `will-power' through history. Thereafter you get a blend of anecdote, research, and self help advice.

Overall I found their account of willpower to be convincing. In as much as I had thought about it I guess that I had always seen willpower as something that you either had or didn't. If you are David Blaine you can clearly do extraordinary things. If you are me, you probably will eat another biscuit, even when you know you shouldn't. What I had never considered was that we have finite amounts of willpower, and if you use it up doing one thing, you can't do something else straight afterwards. This of course could lead to procrastination - but that could be another book in itself!

This will not be to everyone's taste, but if you are reasonably comfortable with reading research, this will make you think about an issue that all of us face a lot of the time.
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Willpower: Why Self-Control is the Secret of Success
Willpower: Why Self-Control is the Secret of Success by Roy F. Baumeister (Paperback - 6 Sep 2012)
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