There’s one trait that every rower needs to have if they want to succeed in rowing, and that’s trustworthiness. Technically, it’s not so much being trustworthy, but being perceived as trustworthy, that matters. You can be as honest, fair, and reliable as the day is long, but if nobody else sees you that way, it won’t help you.
It is hard to prove your best when your coach or teammates don’t trust you. Plenty of times a winning team will be decided upon a group of rowers and coach that trust each other. If you feel they don’t trust you, you need to change because it will be hard to get to your top not being trusted.
If you want other people to believe that you are trustworthy, you should be aware that you may be seriously undermining that belief if you appear to lack self-control. New research shows that people just won’t trust you when you seem like you might have a willpower problem. If you think about it, this makes a lot of sense. We trust people because we know that when things get hard dow the course, or when it might be tempting for them to put their own interests first, they’ll resist temptation and do what’s right for the Team and the boat.
Studies show that when you engage in behaviors that are indicative of low self-control, your trustworthiness is diminished. In other words, all those things you know you shouldn’t do – missing practice, overeating, impulsive reactions to the coach and teammates, being lazy, late, disorganized, excessively emotional, or having a quick temper – may be even worse for you than you ever realized, because of the collateral damage they are doing to your reputation around your teammates and coach.
So if you want to be trusted, you’re going to have to conquer these trust saboteurs. To do that, you’ll need to understand how willpower really works, and how you can get your hands on some more of it.
The Secret to Earning Trust: Willpower
Your capacity for self-control is like the muscles in your body. Willpower varies in its strength, not only from person to person, but from moment to moment.
When you tax your willpower too much at once, or for too long, the well of self-control strength runs dry, no matter who you are. It is in these moments that the doughnut or your hot temper wins.
So if you are serious about resisting your unwanted impulses, start by making peace with the fact that your willpower is limited. If you’ve spent all your self-control handling stresses at school, you will not have much left at the end of the day for sticking to your resolutions like going hard on the erg pieces at the end of the day. So if the most important think for you is your rowing and school, use your willpower and energy for that and save it from other things that happen during the day. Minimize stress from work or school.
The good news is, willpower depletion is only temporary. Give your muscle time to bounce back, and you’ll be back in fighting form. When rest is not an option, recent research shows that you can actually speed up your self-control recovery, or give it a boost when reserves are low, simply by thinking about people you know who have lot of self-control.
The other way in which willpower is like a muscle is that it can be made stronger over time, if you give it regular workouts.
So if you want to build more willpower, start by understanding that your training needs to be consistent and perfect and everything you do will be what you become and how your teammates and coach perceive you. If you want your teammates and coach to trust you, you need to do things that make them trust you and not the opposite so get to work. It will be hard in the beginning, but it will get easier over time if you hang in there, because your capacity for self-control will grow as you work hard and control your actions. Overtime people will notice the change in you, and will start trusting you more.
Armed with more willpower and the trust of those around you, you’ll be more successful than ever before.
Extracts of text from “The Key Trait Successful People Have, and How To Get It” FORBES, Heidi Grant Halvorson, Contributor