Episode 158: When Willpower is Not Enough: Signs You’re Leading from Brute Force + How To Fix It

February 13, 2023

What is different about the leaders we watch and admire, who seem to stride with more confidence and everything just seems to flow so effortlessly for them? What is it that they do differently?

Today’s conversation is for anyone who feels like they are having to pull people along, whether it’s in their own homes or in their businesses. It’s for those of you who want to be an empowered leader who people really want to follow naturally. If you’ve been leaning on sheer willpower for a while now to get to where you are today, today’s your level up.

It’s Time to Step into Spillover Leadership 

Sometimes we lean way too much on what we do. Naturally, that creates the hamster wheel that comes with entrepreneurship and leadership, and the only way to get off of it is to focus on who we are. 

Imagine you’ve built something amazing. You are developing yourself. You’re growing, you’re seeing the possibility. You have a vision for the future…but you’re tired. Your willpower, which is an incredible thing to develop and very necessary for leadership, has been your engine up to this point, but leading by willpower alone is exhausting. What if you could shift from that engine of willpower to just coasting downhill, feeling excited and seeing possibility, not feeling like you’re dragging anything, including yourself?

What if you could lead from a place of spillover (which I’m going to explain in a bit) versus by manufacturing everything in your path? What if how you lead came not from what you had to conjure up for the sake of doing what you have to do, but it spilled out of you from a place of inspiration?

In today’s episode I’m going to walk you through what I’ve done to shift from willpower leadership into spillover leadership.

Filling Up Your Leadership Reserves 

The first piece of that puzzle is presenting you with the question: Are you making time to fill up your reserves? 

I’m not talking about shallow self care, like taking baths and pedicures. I’m talking about the soul level self care. If you don’t feel like you are bubbling over with inspiration, if you don’t feel like you’ve poured into yourself what’s necessary to then pour into others and you’re just pouring into others from sheer willpower, it feels really stressful and really exhausting. 

If I were to open your calendar, would I see places in your calendar weekly that are allotted for filling up those reserves; for reading books, for having nurturing and nourishing conversations with people who fill up those reserves, for spending time in stillness and quiet? If there isn’t specific time and space allotted for filling up those leadership reserves, you are not operating from them, you’ve drained them, they are tanked and you are strictly operating on surface level willpower. 

So, how do you fill up those reserves? This is really important because how you actually pour into yourself is going to be critical in recovering and rejuvenating yourself and coming to a place where you actually are bubbling over and your tank is full and you can serve people at a higher level, including your own family. When people think about this, they usually think of it solely as rest. Now, rest is really important but it’s not going to be filling your leadership reserves. What will fill up those reserves is having nourishing conversations that bring you back to humility, ownership, possibility and all the critical pieces of leadership. Do you have people in your corner that can be that for you? Tools that you can leverage to pour into yourself to really lift you up into leadership possibilities whether it’s a podcast you consume or whether it’s a book that you read, that is strictly focused on this category of life, that’s going to fill up that tank. Sitting down with a blank notebook and writing your own thoughts on this, who you are becoming in this process and your ideas around this that you can then nourish.

You have to figure out your way of replenishing, because it’s going to look a little different for each person.

Most Common Mistakes That Drain Your Leadership Tank 

Here are some of the most common misconceptions and mistakes that many leaders make unconsciously that actually drain their leadership tank: 

  • Seeking validation. Many leaders are seeking validation in their leadership from others: their customers, their clients, their followers on the market. They believe that this is filling them up and confirming that they are a leader, when in reality it’s draining them because they’re seeking validation in the wrong places. 
  • Taking vacations. In reality, we should focus more on creating a life with enough stillness and rejuvenation so that we’re not desperate for a vacation to escape what is. If you are filling your tank regularly, you won’t be so desperate for a vacation and when you do take a vacation, it will actually be restorative instead of coming back stressed because you’re walking right back into the reality you escaped temporarily.
  • Being addicted to to-do lists. Instead of focusing on our to-do lists, we should be creating our to-be lists. You have a lot you have to get done in a day. That’s the reality of the life that you’re living. So, you always have a to-do list and it’s never fully done, but what if you started creating more to-be lists and that’s where you put your focus? Start thinking about the leader you need to be in order to be fulfilled and making the impact you want to make, how would that person look and what do they need to do? Who you are becoming is so much more important than what you are doing. 

Willpower Vs Spillover 

Willpower is this idea that you have enough grit to get it done and grit is a critical piece of being successful and really making things happen. But when you are totally reliant on willpower, that will eventually catch up with you. It’s why so many people are anxious and stressed and not feeling fulfilled even though really great things are happening.

When you’re leading on willpower alone, you’re operating from a place of anxiety and stress. It’s building from a desperate place focused on the wrong metrics and it drains you and it always makes you feel like you’re in a race that you can’t win. It’s leading from a place of scarcity instead of a place of inspiration and abundance. When you’re operating from a place of scarcity, it naturally creates a pressure and pressure leads into fear and anxiety because it’s all on you. It’s all about creating in that moment versus this opportunity to create and serve from a place of peace and clarity and possibility and joy and just really knowing what you’re being called to and how to do that.

Make That Shift 

Are you in this game of both entrepreneurship and parenthood for the validation and quick wins of today or are you in it to make a lifelong impact on yourself and those that you’re serving? 

When you develop the “who” more than the “do” and your leadership and your work is a result of you spilling over into everyone and everything else, you make a greater and a lasting impact and all the things that you’re craving, like recognition and significance, they follow this process. 

If you’re continually bringing your needs for recognition, validation and attention to those you work with, your team or your spouse or your clients or your kids, you’re going to be forever trying to quench those needs, because you’re filling them in the wrong places. The willpower will be what you’re continuing to lean on, and you’re going to burn out. 

So, my challenge to you is to consciously make that shift from willpower to spillover. Focus on really replenishing those reserves and building in the time, the strategy and the process to make sure that you’re doing that in a way that’s in integrity and you’re not trying to just validate yourself.

Let me know how it goes! 


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