Are you the type that wants it now? You can't wait for Christmas morning, so you open just one on Christmas Eve? Maybe you're a live-for-the-moment or only live once type of person. Why delay gratification?
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During the 1970’s Stanford Professor Walter Mischel conducted tests and researched the topic of delayed gratification. He wrote a book about this called "The Marshmallow Test". Professor Mischel placed 7-year-old children in a room where there was a table, a chair, and a single marshmallow on the table. As the professor leaves the room, he makes an offer to each student;
If you do not eat this one marshmallow until I return, I will give you another.
The children are left alone for 15 minutes and videotaped. The initial statistic was that only 7% of the children waited until the professor returned. This showed they had patience and were willing to give up immediate gratification for a more significant benefit.
Gathering this data was only step one. Professor Mischel’s research went on for over 50 years. The professor followed this group through high school and their careers. What he found was startling. The children who could delay gratification when they were seven had higher SAT scores, better jobs, made more money, and even had a lower BMI (body mass index).
It might be too late for my clients or me to say no to that marshmallow, but I see a great learning opportunity. The principle is still sound and can be applied to our business & personal lives today by showing the benefits of having patience. Every decision you make, or response you craft, needs time to be cultivated. In his book, The Seven Habits, Stephen Covey writes about the difference between reaction and response.
Covey's discussion is something very similar to Professor Mischel's. The difference between reaction & response is time. You may want to react to a slap in the face with returning that slap. However, putting space between that immediate need to respond and coming up with an appropriate response is critical.
In your business you are often met with inputs that need your responses. Some things we do automatically, using our gut and intuition. The higher you are up the ladder of an organization, the decisions and reactions get tougher. How do you meet the competitors new price? One of your management team informs you that they are leaving unless they receive increased benefits. Do you pick innovation A or B, with one being much riskier than the other? Time will give you the answer, space is what you need. The easy answer is not always the best.
On a personal side, there are numerous other benefits of delaying gratification. Eating that piece of apple pie might feel great, but it will hurt in the long run. Instead of bingeing one more Amazon Prime movie, getting to bed at a reasonable time will ensure that you are ready for that 8 AM meeting. Not going away this weekend and studying hard for a test or preparing a sales proposal will benefit you.
I find this obstacle often with the entrepreneurs that I work with. Unfortunately, quite a few are drawn to shiny objects and cannot maintain focus on their current situation. If you find yourself in this situation, stop and ask; do I want one marshmallow now or two in just a few minutes?
Yes, patience is a virtue, and it pays long-term dividends. It is hard work today, but will lead you to a better tomorrow! Looking for help along the way? Contact the Kole Performance Group to put a plan into action!