When was the last time you resisted the urge to respond before someone finished their sentence? Or wait for your turn in a discussion or a meeting? Or delayed replying to an email or text you thought was urgent? Or that just appeared in your inbox?
In my daily job, I preach and teach the importance of Emotional Intelligence for personal success and happiness. Self-control and delayed gratification is just one part of it.
The famous Stanford University “Marshmallow test” in the 1960s highlighted how powerful self-control is even when applied to children as young as 4. Researchers found that 30% of children who waited an extra 15 minutes for two marshmallows, rather than eating the one offered straight away, grew up to be healthier and more successful than those who hadn’t been able to wait. Subsequent research has shown that a child’s level of self-control is a more powerful predictor of financial success than IQ, social class or family circumstances!
So knowing that, I have tried to cultivate this trait in my children. Not easy, when my son has ASD and has no time awareness; sensing and living in the NOW and demanding instant gratification. Waiting 6 months for his Christmas present, which was a ticket to the Dog Fair in June, was one of his greatest achievements so far!
My daughter broke all records when she insisted she bake her own 10th birthday cake. Given my inadequate baking skills I reluctantly agreed, preparing myself to buy a replacement anyway, totally underestimating her patience and persistence. 4 hours later, the result was spectacular! A meticulously baked and decorated cake, displayed here! So I am hoping that Stanford researchers were right and my kids will grow up to appreciate the power of self-control and hopefully teach me a thing or two about it along the way!
My self-control was recently tested when I contacted O2, waiting 10 minutes for someone to answer my query online –“Sorry we’re busy right now, thanks for waiting”, “Hold that thought. You are not connected yet”, “Sorry you’re still waiting. We’ll be as quick as we can”. And then another 20 minutes trying to get an answer which never materialised! Trying to control my frustration was no easy task, restraining myself from taking it out on the operator, and trying to live up to what I preach!
“All good things come to those who wait” is an alien concept in this brave new world where we expect to see instant results. Having built a hotel and a house, I know what it means to wait for the foundation to be finished, wait again until the first bricks start appearing and for the building to take shape. Years! Sometimes the longer it takes, the more solid the result and the longer it lasts….
Did you know that 90% of all first businesses fail, because entrepreneurs can’t wait long enough to tip over into success? And then again 90% of all second businesses succeed, yet 80% of business owners never try a second time (one of Joel Osteen’s fascinating statistics).
So, when was the last time you waited, long enough, to find out that it was well worth waiting for?
ADA, July 2017