Here are some points of inspiration we took from our conversation about Ben Hardy’s new book: Why Willpower Doesn’t Work


  1. Most people are unaware of how their environment is shaping them. If you aren’t shaping it, then it is shaping you!
  2. It’s not confidence that creates success, it’s success that creates confidence, and it’s not your personality that shapes your behavior, it’s your behavior that shapes your personality.
  3. Personality is something that can continually develop instead of just being born with a set of characteristics and that’s it. But it takes being proactive about the parts of your brain that are underdeveloped whether it be in learning or from trauma.


Why won’t willpower work?

  • If you have to use willpower it means there is internal conflict within whatever you are doing. You’re not 100% committed.
  • You are in an environment which is pushing against your goals. Decide what you want, then create an environment that will pull you forward.


How do we raise the standards of our environment?

  • Put yourself in a situation of expectation, pressure, and focus.
  • Make sure to make your environment of work and other areas of your life completely separate. This will ensure that you can be present and focused completely on whatever your task is in whatever environment you’re in.


“Faith is action and thus also power. Faith and fear cannot coexist in the same person at the same time.”

Show Transcription

[01:03] Welcome to The Ziglar Show, where we inspire your true performance. I’m your host Kevin Miller and today we bring you Ben Hardy. He has a new book titled, “Willpower doesn’t work”. Friends, this is a profound, really profound message. Who has not gotten frustrated at their lack of willpower? Setting goals, having desires, trying to achieve something…and then failure. Wishing we had more discipline and willpower. Ben takes a hardline and paradigm shifting view to say…relying on willpower is the wrong solution. What is the solution? Listen in and you’ll be mesmerized to hear Ben focus in on how we can design our environment for success, and no longer rely on our grit and willpower. Ben is the #1 writer for and just a masterful writer and communicator. And it comes from…research. This isn’t just his opinion. You literally don’t want to miss this show

[02:07] Over the past 3 years, Ben’s work has been read by over 50 million people and he’s grown his email list from 0 to over 320,000 people without paid advertising. Connect with him and check out the book at

[03:36] OK friends, here then is a profound and liberating conversation with Ben hardy on why willpower doesn’t work!

[03:48] From reading your bio, you had me at…one of your priorities is eating great food. What is a recent, memorable meal?

[04:01] OK. I mean we were just literally in Disney World because my wife and I just adopted our three foster kids last week. We’ve had these foster kids for three years and last week we were granted adoption and so pretty amazing we went to Disney. Can’t say I’m in love with the food at Disney but we did eat some good food as far as memorable meals. My wife and I last year in 2017 when I was writing the book we interviewed one of the chefs so we watch a show called chefs table. Chefs table is one of the best shows on Netflix it’s like one of those Netflix Reginald documentaries and just brilliant and one of the chefs that they highlight out so they go over the top fifty restaurants in the world. You know and they go through like the story of how the person became who they were and then it talks about the restaurant the menu and stuff and one of the people who so turns out that in Lima Peru it’s like one of the food cap it’s definitely a food capital of South America but Lima has three of the top fifty restaurants in the world in it. And so my wife and I we decided we would go down there and go to one of those restaurants and I got to interview one of the people.

[06:10] You stole my thunder I was going to kind of weaved into this story of you showcase that a lot of the motivation which we’re going to talk about here is for writing this book came from this experience you had with these foster kids and yeah I was tipped off that literally I think days ago you guys a gigantic fruition of this journey in the in the adoption coming through I know part of that world that is huge and nobody if you haven’t been through foster care and adoption and all that process, there’s no way to know the heartache of that and so you guys have experienced it too big level. Tell us a little bit about it but also I want to know why how that came into the motivation to write this tremendous book.

[06:56] Thank you and so yeah it every situation is different in some states have different laws but the foster care system is really broken, in most places the employees there are not very motivated people I mean a lot of them do really I mean it’s a hard job but they’re operating under a different set of rules than are often in alignment with what is in the best interest of the kids. You know they’ve got rules and things like that they’ve got things that they need to do and so it can create a conflict where they’re doing things to appease the rules of kind of their organization or their culture but it’s actually getting in the way of what their job actually is which is to help other kids. And so we in our situation we got our foster kids in January of 2015 and I’ve been fighting for him pretty much ever since and finally came through at the adoption against all odds. And why how you know it’s been one of the most amazing experiences of all of my life kind of really changed my approach to the world, changed who I am, changed how I you know allowed me to be a lot more patient and compassion and things like that and so you know how did it influence and inspire me to write the book. Well you know when you take three kids from a really broken situation and you put them into a very different environment there’s going to be a conflict right there like it shatters things and so we had to figure out how to help these kids and the kids had to figure out how to adapt to the environment.

[09:51] So I had not had this discussion in a while on being a product of your environment I grew up with that perspective but then having the kids, our biological kids and see how they just come out so different from the womb was amazing, but now today I have a five year old who for a year and a half now we don’t we haven’t adopted, it’s from a Native American reservation probably never will we have custody and we expect she’ll be with us forever and seen the damage that was done to her early on and to see after year and a half some significant changes, dramatic changes but also some handicaps I don’t know it’s daunting, it’s incredibly daunting to look at and as you talk about a product of our environment talk a little bit, I’m jumping I want to get in somebody’s personal story but we’re right here already in this is the meet of your of your book being a product your environment so many of us here we are. We’re an aspiring group tens of thousands of people are listening to this and Ziglar audience and they’re hearing this they want more things, they want to progress and yet as you know they’re handicapped to some degrees from their past, they want to go forward and there’s that tension. I don’t know help us out right there from the get go of looking at it going yeah we’ve got some stuff in the past, we want to go forward, we are products of our environment to some degree and you know step one and you go get the book but help us out a little bit here.

[11:26] Yeah this is good stuff here, hidden some cool points and so number one there’s a quote from Dr Marshall Goldsmith. He’s a really smart psychologist and he said that if you do not create and control your environment, your environment creates and controls you. So that’s one like point or one is that most people are unaware of how their environment is shaping them. You know what we would call living reactively rather than living proactively. If you proactively create situations you know even you know a lot of research and positive psychology talks about optimist’s view situations differently. They can what’s the opposite of an optimist a pessimist. Pessimists when something goes wrong they immediately start pointing at themselves and saying I’m just not good or I can’t do this. An optimist if something goes wrong they start to think about how the situation influenced, why it didn’t go well. And they start to think how can I change situational factors so that things can go more in my favour. Obviously a big part of that’s themselves their own skills but that’s part of the situation is you know what do I need to do differently or how can I manipulate the situation, how can I be optimiser. I think the optimists are how they can alter things for their benefit where is pessimists they think in terms of like I just can’t do this, it’s gone, it’s permanent, it’s not changeable.

[16:53] So you are actually saying if you have a trauma, if you have a bad incident, you have this bad programming in essence, you have a trauma it exists there that your hectic in addressing that is let’s go counter that with a positive?

[17:14] Well so kind of going back to memory you know those type of experiences is actually isolated you know they’re stored differently in the memory, they’re isolated, they’re not fluid like most memories and there’s a quote that basically says you are as sick as your secrets you know. So basically when it comes to suppressed emotions and things like that most people if they go through a really hard experience like for example a lot of women the numbers are really high like the numbers are like in the 30% or more, they’re like at least 30% of women are going to be sexually abused in their life. It’s a horrible fact and most women if you tell them that they would actually say I believe it’s more but what most people don’t do is they don’t talk about it. If you go through a traumatic experience of any site most people don’t ever talk about it with anyone, they keep it secret. And that’s why it gets stored in your memory in a different way and that’s why your personality gets frozen in those areas and doesn’t develop. So a personality is something that sit continually be developed, it’s not some fixed characteristic that you’re born with, it should continually change.

[25:10] So in that you just said creating the conditions to pull you forward so that when you make a decision then you shouldn’t have to rely on willpower. Where the consequences come in to this and it’s one thing to create the conditions to pull me forward to make the decision that I am not going to eat sugar because I want this goal and then the night comes and you make a bad choice to sit down in front of the T.V. and then that hankering comes for that addiction that we have of putting something sugary in our mouth and that’s where we get caught up in that willpower. Tell us how you’re seeing that different or designing that differently.

[25:47] Yes in the book I talk about two types of optimal environments. I called enriched environments in the book. One is high stress high pressure and the other one is high rest high recovery. If you’ve ever studied Dan Sullivan his work at strategic, she talks about focus days and free days and it’s really similar but in this case I’m talking about situations. So you know in high high pressure and high demand situations, you’re fully engaged, fully absorbed in what you’re doing you experience what psychologists call flow and the only way to experience flow is if the situational trick, if the situation is set up for flow. So for flow to exist you’ve got to have immediate feedback, you’ve got to have difficulty, you’ve got to have a newness, you’ve got to have consequences for behaviour like the reason why extreme athletes can experience flows because there’s immediate feedback and there’s high consequence for failure right, like if you fall and you’re in a huge half pipe you could get really hurt. So in the book The Millionaire Next Door, the two professors who perform the study said that the people who become most affluent are the ones who are paid based on performance not just based on like a salary. So obviously for people who are seeking high performance you know, you want to do a job where you’re getting paid based on what you actually achieve not just on the time you spend on the clock. So those are two did very different worldviews one is called like the time and effort category and one is the results economy.

[35:42] OK I mean we talk so much about being proactive verse being reactive. We all want to be that mature discipline full of willpower person that can make the mature choice that can have the computer, that’s fully plugged in there’s no limit on it that we can just be disciplined and stick to our timeline as opposed to being reactionary which we tend to naturally be as humans and it feels like in this you are to a degree manufacturing reactionary being able to be reactionary.

[36:17] Yeah I mean I think that you know it’s the very question of is it choice or is it environment you know I mean like as a Nature is it nurture. And for me we obviously have choices human beings are very powerful creatures, we can make choices. I think the smartest this season people can make is to choose the environment and create the situations that will end up creating them. So yeah I mean it’s not about being proactive reactive like basically to me being proactive is creating conditions that allow you to succeed. It’s your being proactive when you’re shaping your environment you know it’s not like you’re being reactive but you do realize once you become aware of it, how much the environment is influencing you his colleague Jim Roan. You know Jim, he said you know like don’t put yourself in among among an easy crowd because you won’t grow surround yourself with people where the expectations in the end the demands for high performance are high when you put yourself around certain types of people you don’t need willpower the expectations just force you forward that’s the forcing function it’s a concept in psychology called the Pygmalion effect basically what it means is that we’re always rising to or falling down to the expectations of those around us if you surround.

[37:55] OK I want to come back to the aspect of motivation because you talk about that so much in the book and as we look at these lifestyle design and making that decision coming back like what you said about Michael Jordan you made a decision didn’t think about it again but on motivation where do you find as we are all, yeah like you talked about it we’re an audience right here this is an aspiring crowd or they wouldn’t be here listening to this and in the in the first place but where do you find people or you say obviously the motivation is just not enough is there a point where we have to kind of grasp that and say you got to figure out a way to increase that motivation or you are going to be stuck just with willpower?

[38:40] Well I mean so for me let’s just say a lot of people for example ask me where do I get my inspiration to write you know and for me it’s not inspiration that creates action. It’s action that creates inspiration right and so it’s again opposite of conventional wisdom. Motivation is exact same thing, motivation like confidence comes after you start moving. It’s not motivation that gets you moving, motivation is a by-product, it kicks in and then it becomes you know a self-fulfilling prophecy or it becomes more powerful that you have to take the initiative yourself. You know it’s like you have to act initially with a lack of motivation and then once you start behaving it’s like confidence and successful behaviour that creates confidence, it’s not confidence that creates that successful behaviour. Confidence then helps later on but at some point you just have to start moving in the right direction and then the other things like motivation and inspiration, confidence so seeing start kicking in. And so I mean at the end of the day someone’s got to make a choice you know I mean and then once they start moving in the right direction then all the other benefits start kicking in.

[45:10] I want to call just for our listeners you mentioned Victor Frankl and who wrote the book Man’s Search for Meaning. My business partner gave me just recently The Tim Ferriss Tribe of Mentors, I think is his new book and I’ve been flipping through that really interesting one but I would venture to say that is the number one book people reference to his question of what is the book that you have most given to other people and it’s brought me back and I need to go search for my copy again and read it again because that was so powerful. He’s in such a dire circumstance and overcome that so I want to ask again about circumstance. So I asked you kind of some low hanging fruit issues about where we miss an environmentally but you obviously are putting a gigantic value on that. How radical I can hear people feel like how radical do I need to go? I live in a home, I have a spouse let’s say or you know and maybe kids in it it has these certain things good and bad about it. I would work somewhere and a lot of people are we have a lot of folks who are self employed here probably maybe a majority but a lot of folks who are employees there in someplace, maybe feel like they don’t have a lot of control of that and you’re putting this massive value on what is or is not happening in there and if they are to design this for their own success to help foster their own success and not just depend on their willpower which most so often are reliant solely on that. How radical do we need to go?

[47:00] So here’s my response that once you become, once your desires to live fully can grow you know you have to realize you and your environment are two parts of the same whole. In certain situations, obviously yes you probably should quit your job or leave that relationship in others though you need to start with just honest conversations you know I mean obviously for example my wife and I like we don’t it’s not like you’re never going to see exactly I with someone and that’s not actually what you should want you know what I mean. A lot of it’s just deciding specific goals like for me for example you know when I’m at home like my wife is like the exact wife I would choose when it comes to like my home and my family and like you know we’re talking about like this recovery environment but like you should not expect one person to fulfil every role in need that you have. You know and so for me like I have lots of mentors in my writing career in unlike my entrepreneurial stuff and they fulfil those roles that my wife could never fulfil. And so I think it’s not being one dimensional about who you are like again who you are in one situation is different from who you are in another and it’s like you know you want to establish a home that resonates with your value system and then you want to put yourself in situations that allow you to challenge in the growth in others. So for me I invest a lot of money you know and it started really small in the beginning but now I’m investing more and more in mentor ships and masterminds and skills and relationships and opportunities.

[55:47] Are you pumped? Hopeful? I absolutely know you are. And folks, if you got value, the most valuable way to let us know is by leaving a review in iTunes. Connect with Ben and check out the book at Coming up next in show 553 we go behind the scenes with Ben and follow the Ziglar wheel of life, walking through Ben’s challenges and healthy habits in the 7 spokes. Some highlights, He puts a priority on sleep, for himself, but also for his 3 newly adopted kids. he loves working out and listening to great messages on audio books. To stay mentally strong, he works to put himself into groups of people where he’s the dumbest in the room. Even in a year when he only made $12k, he invested in himself and shares some amazing stories. Spiritually he’s just fervently seeking truth. Not religion…from all people. You’ll enjoy this show friends. Till then…