During the 1960s, Walter Mischel carried out a series of studies on 600 boys and girls between the ages of three and five in what became known as the Stanford Marshmallow Experiment. A supervisor would bring the child into a room on their own and sit them at a desk with a marshmallow in front of them. The child was told that they could eat the marshmallow now, but if they waited for a few minutes while the supervisor left the room, they would be given two marshmallows.
Some children would stare at the marshmallow for the duration of the study, many would take the sweet to their nose and smell it or lick it, or feel it with their hands. Others would pull at their clothes and hair in an effort to ward off temptations.
Many simply ate the marshmallow in one bite as soon as the supervisor closed the door.
In the decades that followed, Mischel traced the children as they grew up. The professor found that the children who were able to hold off for a second treat would achieve higher SAT scores, go on to college and lead busier social lives. This group also experienced lower levels of substance abuse, a lower likelihood of obesity and they responded better to stress than their counterparts who favoured instant gratification.
Delayed gratification doesn’t just make treats taste more delicious, the practice yields better results at every stage of life, from better health to better business. After achieving a little success, a rebel entrepreneur may be easily lured into spending their profits on lifestyle rather than reinvesting these profits back into the business. However, if they choose to delay this gratification, their patience will pay off in abundance. The rebel entrepreneur will analyse what made their little success and throw gasoline on that success in the form of profits and concentration. They say no to instant gratification, knowing that there is a far bigger prize in the form of freedom and success in delayed gratification.
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