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Willpower vs. Enthusiasm for Results That Last

by Kyle Brown
Home/Blog/Protect Your Mental Wellbeing During the COVID-19 Pandemic

It’s Monday morning, 7AM and you’re lying in bed scrolling through your social media feeds desperately searching for that willpower and motivation that’ll get you off your butt and into the gym. It seems like you’re sifting through a sea of Instagram models who have turned the fitness industry into softcore porn with quotes from books they haven’t even read and one meme after the next about lions and how badass they are as “Kings of the Jungle.”

Isn’t it weird how ubiquitous those lion memes are? Quotes like “Everyone wants to be a beast until it’s time to do what real beasts do,” or “if your goals set you apart from the crowd, stay alone.” Or better yet, “The lion doesn’t have to prove that it’s a threat. You already know what it’s capable of. The one I see all the time that people use to justify being a self-righteous schmuck is, “lions don’t lose sleep over the opinion of sheep.”  Seriously, all of these memes are literally in my newsfeed as I write this article.

These lion memes are, for some reason, used as a testament to the might of willpower. Well, as a the author of “How Much Does A Zebra Weigh?” and a lover of big picture thinking, I think all these kitties are meowing up the wrong tree.

Here’s the real deal on lions.

  1. Lions don’t even live in the jungle. The live in the plains and grasslands.
  2. Lions are lonely. The male lion gets kicked out of the pride at 2 or 3 years old. If another male takes over the pride… he kills the existing cubs.
  3. Lions are lazy. The male lion actually sleeps up to 20 hours a day!
  4. Female lions do the hunting together in teams. They’re the real badasses. The male lions on the other hand are selfish asses with no manners. They eat before the women and cubs, gorging themselves on 40 to 80 pounds of meat in a meal. The women eat next, leaving the cubs with the scraps at the end.
  5. Female lions stay together with the pride and raise the young. The male lions have nothing to do with even their own cubs.

These are lonely, selfish animals. Sitting all alone as delusional Kings of the Jungle they don’t even live in, acting more like an ass than a bad ass.

Like many, I used to pride myself on being a “lion.” For nearly two decades, I wore my work ethic as a badge of honor. Everything I did in life was based on will power. 80 to 110 hours of work a week was my purple heart. Hustling, struggling, grinding. Even though I was working out religiously and eating a nearly perfect Paleo style diet, I was exhausted, my hair was greying, and I pushed through massive stress and the occasional anxiety attack.  As an entrepreneur, I thought it was all about will power and hard work. Yet one of my mentors taught me that if will power and hard work alone made you a success, those working their butts off in the fields would be the billionaires with six packs.

The Japanese even have a word for this toxic lifestyle of working yourself to death – “karoshi”.

Once I had my daughter, I delved deep into the study of happiness on my personal development journey and realized happiness is a choice, not a result. Well specifically, 50% is a genetic set point, 10% is your circumstances (income, social status, environment) and 40% is left to your choice of perspective.

Enthusiasm is the key to a better life.

One day, sitting down watching my kiddos dancing and singing along to Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, it hit me. When the theme song came on, they got fired up with a completely different fuel source than the willpower many of us rely on. They were fueled by enthusiasm… and it was electric! Their guru Mickey Mouse had them jumping off the walls like jelly beans.

The key to long term success and outright happiness is not to be a “lion,” always focused on willpower. The key is to be more like Mickey Mouse: fueled by enthusiasm, with an occasional turbo boost of willpower. 

Think about it. Mickey Mouse is a happy-go-lucky, high energy, fit Billionaire leader fueled by enthusiasm. He looks at the world in awe and obstacles as exciting challenges. So unlike his friends, Mickey rarely gets flustered or defeated. Hence, Mickey is the leader.

He’s a turbo charged ball of enthusiasm-fueled happiness, and research shows happy people bounce back from adversity quicker. On the other hand, when people are solely fueled by willpower, they eventually start to burn out. Their enthusiasm turns into pessimism and cynicism, and they begin to identify themselves as a victim. At this point, they become totally defeated. They stop being Mickey Mouse and start becoming kind of an Eeyore.

Eeyore is like many of the people who come to me for transformation coaching who have failed over and over on other programs. They have lost before they even started. They view eating healthy and exercising as a torture they must endure as they struggle to lose fat. They have zero self-confidence and blame everything on outside forces. Deep down, they don’t believe there is any chance they will ever get what they desire.

Change your mindset, change your outcome.

For me, fitness was never about fat loss – it was the antidepressant that saved my life. It has been my outlet to help me alongside proper nutrition and deep personal development to become the best version of myself. Fitness and living a healthy lifestyle are sacred, and I have fallen in love with the process because I know how great I feel once those beautiful happy hormones dopamine and endorphins start kicking in from my efforts. It’s all enthusiasm, which is why I live fit 365 days a year at nearly 40 years old.  

Your mindset on fitness and nutrition can make or break your long-term success. Having an approach of “I get to” versus “I have to” is one of the key differentiators between people who succeed and fail. It becomes an opportunity when you are fueled by enthusiasm, versus an obligation when you are fueled solely by will power. You start to live as a fit happy leader with passion and purpose as you raise the bar and defy the odds.

Forgetting willpower and embracing enthusiasm

So how do you switch fuel systems from will power to enthusiasm? Is it as easy as trading in your gas-guzzler for an electric car? In the words of the mouse himself, “You betcha!”


Gratitude is the key to kick-start the enthusiasm engine. If the first two words out of your mouth when you wake up are “thank you,” and you live simply grateful for every experience that is coming your way, you’ll never have to wait for motivation again.

Here’s a little hack to get you out of analysis paralysis to start taking action on what you really need to do today: Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Science revealed that our decisions are made 7 seconds before we become aware of them. We have a 7 second window from when your subconscious mind tells you what you should do and when your conscious mind actually responds.

The way to hack this is through what is known as pattern interruption, which kicks in your conscious brain. One way you can pattern interrupt is by saying a quick mantra during this time like “I got this!” or counting backwards 5-4-3-2-1 and then you just jump into what you need to do.

Stop settling for normal.

The problem is that when you run on will power, you wait for motivation to kick in to start your proverbial engine. So, you need to stop waiting on motivation to kick in before you take action. To get what you want and to be happy, you have to do many things you don’t feel motivated to do beforehand. Right now, at this very moment reading this article, make a personal commitment to simply put your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual fitness first and be enthusiastic about it. Commit to being a role model,  not to being normal.

It’s like jumping in a pool. If you get stuck in your head thinking about the temperature of the water, you’ll talk yourself out of it, or the experience will be miserable. If you keep your eyes on the prize and focus on how good you’ll feel after a swim or how much fun you will have playing with friends in the water, it becomes easy.

Remember, you are your own best sales person. The problem is that you keep selling yourself short by striving for normal.

Ask yourself this question:
Have you ever read an autobiography about a normal guy, who did normal things, who lived a normal and safe life, and achieved normality? So why are you selling yourself on the idea that it is crazy or bad or ridiculous to do something everyone else isn’t doing?

I was up before 4 AM. Not normal.

I did fasted cardio this morning. Not normal.

Expressed gratitude right when I woke up. Not normal.

I meditated in my infrared sauna. Sure as heck not normal. 

My breakfast was the real breakfast of champions, a FIT 365 shake. Not normal

I’ve put myself out on a limb every day since 2001, unwilling to take a normal job, to have a life’s work that adds value and create a legacy I can be proud of. All of this is fueled by enthusiasm.

Stop selling yourself on normal as an excuse for playing small. You deserve to experience and feel the pain, the heartache, the fear, the sadness, as well as the excitement, the endorphin rush, the happiness and the fulfillment that comes from refusing normal.

Yes, all of these emotions come with refusing normal. Life is meant to be unpredictable. Without using will power to persevere through and feeling the negative emotions, you’d lack true appreciation of the positive experiences and emotions. So buckle up, put on your Mickey Mouse ears, and smile enthusiastically. The road is bumpy, but so worth it.


The Paleo movement incorporates several different optimizing perspectives for helping you improve your health, all based on the latest science. Everyone is different. We want to support you in understanding your unique genetic makeup, symptoms and health goals so you can choose the path that is right for you.

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Kyle Brown - Speaker for Paleo f(x) 2019

Kyle Brown

Kyle Brown is a celebrity Fitness & Nutrition Coach empowering busy women to achieve their ideal bodies…fast!