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The Strategic Value of the Human Will

The Strategic Value of the Human Will

It’s the repetition of affirmations that leads to belief. And once that belief becomes a deep conviction, things begin to happen.

-         MuhammadAli

Affirmations are strategic tools. Affirmations gives us inner strength and persistence to succeed when the odds seem against us. Take Muhammad Ali, for example. He grew up during when segregation was alive and well in America. Allegedly, Ali had his bike stolen, and he wanted to take out his anger on the person who stole it. Ali’s inner strength captured the attention of a police officer who recognized the potential Ali had to become a great boxer. That police officer helped change Ali’s life- for the better. Muhammad Ali leveraged his will to generate strategic capacity that created more opportunities.

Ali’s energy created options, that led to more options, as he developed new skills and relationships to propel him to wealth, fame and self-actualization. Ali became wealthy, a philanthropist and a social activist; the rest is history. Affirmations stir the power of the will. The will is sometimes known as morale.

Here’s another perspective regarding the human will.

So, powerful is the energy and capacity of the human will, that good leaders recognize the danger it brings when ill-applied. Nefarious actors, such as terrorists or insurgents are often sustained by will and can wreak havoc on society. They get their affirmations from tainted religious or political texts.

Terrorist groups such as al Qaeda and ISIS promote a distorted apocalyptic view of the world that materializes itself it the deaths of innocent civilians and the destruction of institutions.

In times of armed conflict, the Marine Corps recognizes the power of the opponent’s human spirit poses a great risk towards it forces. So much so, that a primary Marine Corps goal in combat operations is not to physically obliterate an opponent, but to break their will to fight…to subdue the opposition to shorten the negative impacts of conflict.  We see that here in the following insights from the Marine Corps; one deriving from the late Napoleon Bonaparte.

Maneuver warfare is a warfighting philosophy that seeks to shatter the enemy's cohesion through a variety of rapid, focused, and unexpected actions which create a turbulent and rapidly deteriorating situation with which the enemy cannot cope.

-         United States Marine Corps, Warfighting 1997

In war, the moral is to the material as three to one.

-         Napoleon, cited by United States Marine Corps, Warfighting 1997

The human spirit, the use of affirmations to embolden the spirit to create options and opportunities; is a powerful strategic tool to create options that can lead to more options…both good and bad. 


St-Pierre, G. (2013). The way of the fight. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers. Page 2.

United States Marine Corps. (1997, June 20). Warfighting - The Conduct of War - Maneuver Warfare, pg 73. Retrieved from []

Wikipedia. (1967). Bust photographic portrait of Muhammad Ali in 1967. World Journal Tribune photo by Ira Rosenberg [Bust photographic portrait of Muhammad Ali in 1967. World Journal Tribune photo by Ira Rosenberg.]. Retrieved from Source: [] Page last edited 8Aug17

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