Roy Baumeister (professor of social psychology at Florida State) and John Tierney (long time science correspondent for the New York Times) call Willpower the greatest human strength in the book’s very subtitle. A bold statement, and a challenge to hook both the professional who wants more willpower or the one who thinks he has plenty to go around.

The authors tell you up front that 1. you have a finite amount of willpower and 2. that no matter what tasks you perform, you draw from the same reserve. Once it is gone, you are likely toast until you replenish your stock. They back up their words with the detailed research carried out on the topic in studies around the world, but they present that evidence in easy to understand anecdotes and examples from those studies. So from the very beginning, the wise leader will easily draw out the implications of these findings both for themselves, their subordinates and their bosses.

The book goes on to show how a person can build up and strengthen their willpower, the peril of keeping long to-do lists, the importance of teaching kids discipline, and finally, a checklist of take-aways for the busy professional.

This really is an easy read and compelling one as well.  You ought to be able to read it in a few hours or a few days if you have limited time. I recommend a pencil for margin notes and some page tabs. there are lots of business books that people buy because they’re on the racks or some newly famous CEO wrote his “how I made a billion” story. Lots of those book turn out to be bunk after a few years when the hot examples in the book turn out to be failures. But this book is one that you can take off your shelf time after time to reference when you’re finding your willpower draining away or perhaps see your boss’s reservoir emptying. This is a great topic for a training day or as an introduction topic prior to a project to raise a teams awareness of willpower issues before the really hard work starts.

Give it a try.

Keep thinking.