The Will to Choose:Volition Spectrum

Everybody has a choice in how they approach doing life. The power to choose your approach and mindset can be defined as volition. Volition can be defined as the will to choose. Volition is not just an act, but it is also a mindset. Everyone has the will to choose what they want to do; whether it is their career choice, beliefs, and in the performance world their choices in becoming physically better.  While I was an undergraduate student, the Volition Spectrum was brought to light by Dr. Dan Gerdes (sport psychologist). The Volition Spectrum is taking a course of action in how you approach choosing to do something. It is not defining an action, but defining how you go about taking action. Before moving forward, see the Volition Spectrum illustration below.

When you consider people whom are very successful, which part of the spectrum do they live? The answer is pretty simple. I don’t think Bill Gates had an “I’ll Try” approach to innovation or even Lance Armstrong stringing together his run of Tour de’ France victories said, “I’ll try”.

I am lucky enough to work in a facility with professional baseball players. It’s safe to say that the common goal of these guys is to make it to the big leagues. In order to do that, every part of their life has to be in place, you just don’t fall into a big league roster because you tried. Choosing to believe in your training and having an “I will” mentality that applies to all the pieces will only lead to an extremely high level of confidence and preparation. Again, volition is not just an action, but a way that you attack those actions.

As a former high school coach, I found that athletes had a hard time getting out of their comfort zones in choosing how they approach doing life. Without a statistical reference, it is safe to say that a majority of Americans live in the “I’ll try” or “I can” portion of the spectrum; a tough cycle to break. The toughest part of coaching is getting athletes to buy into attacking their actions with an “I will” mentality. My elementary school used to use the saying,” The I can, and I will school.” Why wouldn’t it be the “I will school”. Using an “I can” approach leaves doubt about finishing your action.

Obviously, there are books that have been written about sport psychology, but people tend to over think the way they approach doing things. If you haven’t seen Will Smith’s motivational video, he simplifies volition into a simple statement. “There is no plan B, as plan B distracts you from plan A.” Will Smith has an “I will” mentality and can be seen from his successes. Life is short and there is no room for marginal effort. If you want to attack a dream or a goal, consider the volition spectrum.


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