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Power of Will - Fact or Fiction?

by Rick Baker
On May 17, 2012

Do human beings possess power of will?

Are we destined to a fate? or

Are we masters of our own destiny?

Destined Fate:

Very intelligent people have said things like:

  • All things are subject to decay and when fate summons, monarchs must obey.” [John Dryden]
  • But blind to former as to future fate, what mortal knows his pre-existent state?” [Alexander Pope], and 
  • Fate determines many things, no matter how we struggle.” [Otto Weininger]

Some people accept ‘their fate’ without really thinking much about it. Others think deeply on the matter and say it as their well-thought-out conclusions. Many people believe, at least to some degree, believe they have little influence over their future.


Very intelligent people have said things like:

  • Our life is what our thoughts make it.” [Marcus Aurelius], 
  • Whatever you create in your life you must first create in your imagination.” [Tycho Photiou], and 
  • Destiny is not a matter of chance; it is a matter of choice.” [William Jennings Bryan].  

Some people believe what you can conceive and believe you can achieve1. Under the 'Law of Attraction', achievement in life is yours to be had...it is a matter of your power of will. This sort of thinking is a key facet of major religions. It is also the backbone of most leaders’ philosophies and approach to life.

What applies to life must apply to business, a subset of life.

And, in business we spend a lot of time trying to be the cause of future effects. We plan, set goals, set priorities, take predetermined actions, measure results, etc.

So...which is it...A or B?

A: Our destinies are pre-determined by Fate?

B: We possess power of will and we can use it to determine our destinies?

or is it...

C: Both A and B are correct [in which case wouldn't it be nice to understand which one applies when, where, how, etc]


  1. Napoleon Hill, 'Think and Grow Rich', (1937)


Beyond Business

Comments (8) -

rick baker
5/4/2012 11:22:58 PM #

"Power of Will is, first, mental capacity for a single volitional act: A powerful will, as the saying is, means the mind's ability to throw great energy into a given command for action, by itself, or by the body, or by other beings. This is what Emerson calls "the spasm to collect and swing the whole man"."

Frank C. Haddock
'Power of Will', (1907)

rick baker
5/4/2012 11:26:11 PM #

"Man is manacled only by himself: thought and action are the jailers of Fate   - they imprison, being base; they are also the angels of Freedom - they liberate, being noble."

James Allen
‘As a Man Thinketh’, (1903)

rick baker
5/12/2012 11:25:10 PM #

“Success in life is dependant largely upon the will-power, and whatever weakens or impairs it diminishes success.”

Orison Swett Marden
‘Pushing to the Front’, (1911)

rick baker
6/7/2012 11:48:01 PM #

"Physiologists should think again before postulating the drive to self-preservation as the cardinal drive in an organic being. A living thing desire above all to vent its strength - life as such is will to power -: self-preservation is only one of the indirect and most frequent consequences of it."

Friedrich Nietzsche
‘Beyond Good and Evil’, (1886)

rick baker
6/13/2012 8:53:26 PM #

"Much is said today in regard to the will. It is many times spoken of as if it were a force in itself. But will is a force, a power, only in so far as it is a particular form of the manifestation of the thought forces; for it is by what we call the "will" that thought is focused and given a particular direction, and in the degree that thought is thus focused and given direction, is it effective in the work it is sent out to accomplish."

Ralph Waldo Trine
'In Tune with the Infinite', (1942, 45th Anniversary Edition)

rick baker
6/13/2012 9:42:53 PM #

"It is will, - force of purpose, - that enables a man to do or be whatever he sets his mind on being or doing."

Samuel Smiles
'Self-Help: with Illustrations of Character and Conduct', (1859)

rick baker
6/13/2012 10:06:16 PM #

"True will-power consists of overcoming the irritabilities, follies, rash impulses, and moral lapses which accompany the daily life of the individual, and which are apt to manifest themselves on every slight provocation; and in developing calmness, self-possession, and dispassionate action in the press and heat of worldly duties, and in the midst of the passionate and unbalanced throng."

James Allen
‘Byways of Blessedness’, (1904)

rick baker
11/25/2012 7:38:06 PM #

“Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will."

Mahatma Gandhi

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