During the 1960s, an American psychologist, Walter Mischel, conducted “the marshmallow test” at Stanford University. Working with four-year-olds from a preschool, he assessed their abilities to delay gratification. Each pre-schooler was given one marshmallow. The four-year-olds were told that they could eat it immediately or, if they waited until the researcher returned in 20 minutes, they could have two marshmallows.
Some kids in the group just couldn’t wait! They gobbled down the marshmallow immediately while the rest struggled greatly to resist eating it. They covered their eyes, talked to themselves, sang, played games, and even tried to go to sleep. The pre-schoolers who were able to wait were rewarded with two marshmallows when the researcher returned. Ten to twelve years later, the same kids were re-evaluated as teenagers.
The differences were astonishing. Those who had been able to control their impulses and delay gratification as four-year-olds were more effective socially and personally. They displayed higher levels of assertiveness, self-confidence, trustworthiness, dependability, and ability to control stress. Even their Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) scores were 210 points higher than the “instant gratification” group!
A key difference between leaders and those who struggle to get by is self-discipline. The same tenet holds true for successful organizations as well. It’s the unchanged discipline and trustworthiness of the institution, matched by the dependability of its workforce that gives birth to uniqueness. Sure, the universal hypothesis might take a long time to prove, but ultimately, this blend is what differentiates the ‘great’ from the ‘good’!