The Marshmallow Test

May 28th, 2013

OK, I’m a sucker for Daniel Goleman. And anything with “marshmallow” in the title.

And, apparently, I’m pretty partial to LinkedIn thought leader articles, as I find myself loitering there enjoying good ideas (and blog fodder) more and more often.

Daniel Goleman, king of emotional intelligence and related books, lectures, etc., has many wise things to say.

Apparently at the prompting of LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner, Goleman today wrote about the legendary “marshmallow test” and its implications for the business world.

As Goleman describes, in the marshmallow test, a group of four-year-olds received one marshmallow, but were told that they could have two marshmallows if they waited seven or eight minutes.

It turns out the good things really do come to those who wait. Fourteen years later, the kids who held out for the two marshmallows excelled at learning, social skills and delaying gratification in favor of focusing on goals.

Being able to delay gratification, says Goleman, “hinges on a cognitive skill: concentrating on the good feelings that will come from achieving a goal, and so ignoring tempting distractions. That ability also lets us keep going toward that goal despite frustrations, setbacks, and obstacles. And therein lies its application to entrepreneurs and business leaders.”

This worries me greatly, as I am a tremendous fan of instant gratification.

OK, it’s a good lesson, even for those who aren’t entrepreneurial types: keep your eye on the prize.

Which hopefully is better for you than two marshmallows.


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