Many years ago, in my Psychology 1001 college course, we studied The Marshmallow Test, made famous by psychologist Walter Mischel in the 1960s. At the time, I paid little attention to it other than to pass my exam.
Years later, I worked for, and became good friends with his daughter (who I’m sure is cringing now), so I looked it up again, and it resonated loudly with me.
Essentially, the experiment was a study of delayed gratification. Put a child in a room with one treat. They could either eat the one treat or wait 15 minutes and be rewarded with two treats. Tough choice for a kid!
The study concluded that kids who waited for the two treats had better life outcomes. The ability to exhibit delayed gratification paid off.
Where Did Delayed Gratification Go?
I read a tongue-in-cheek article the other day that was a eulogy to delayed gratification. In today’s world of high-tech gadgets and readily available information, speed, convenience and immediate results seem to have taken over every aspect of our lives.
And the same seems to go for our businesses as well. Businesses seem to expect massive financial growth every quarter. But, is this realistic? When it comes to business, is delayed gratification dead?
When it comes to successful businesses, ones with the staying power to outlast the tough economic times, delayed gratification is not dead. In fact, it is essential to their success.
Businesses, especially entrepreneurial businesses, who practice delayed gratification…
Let’s say your business has an crucial spot to fill. It is painful every day that it goes vacant. The first impulse is to hire immediately, improving life for the next quarter. The successful business takes the time to hire right, improving business for the next three years.
…Invest in the Future.
An investment in future technologies, advanced training for your employees, or even the opportunity to expand your own knowledge, will provide the long-term solutions to issues that businesses might not even have arisen yet.
Successful businesses understand that what the latest and greatest is today, might not be the best a few years down the road. Remember, that with one successful product, if it fails, it all fails! They are constantly taking chances to improve their products and services through diversification.
Looking ahead–not expecting the immediate results to continue forever! Just like your mama always told you, “Don’t puts your eggs all in one basket.” And don’t be afraid to drop the egg that is no longer bringing you in the margins that equal the time and money you are putting into it.
Successful businesses put the safeguards in place to persevere. They are willing to sacrifice today for the success of tomorrow.
Success usually comes down to choosing the pain of discipline and the initial sacrifices, over the ease of impulses. And that’s what delayed gratification is all about.
Does your business display delayed gratification? If not, it might be time to start.