agent of arcadia

Archive for August, 2014|Monthly archive page

Three simple elements to stay focused

In Branding, Change Management, Communication, Development, Inspire, Leadership, Learning, Personal Branding, Philosophy, Positive Thinking on August 10, 2014 at 10:51 pm

I was on a plane once traveling from point A to point B, as you do. In the last brief moments of the flight, a mini-documentary came on the screen to while away the last few moments of the flight.

It had been a long flight and the last thing anyone wanted to do was watch a documentary. Documentaries usually mean a dedicated cognitive presence and invested focus. You can’t simply tune out because you would miss the gist of the topic.

But this one caught my attention. A group of children were the focus of a study. Each child was placed alone in a room with nothing but a small plate on a table in front of them. On the plate was a marshmallow.

The kids were told that they could have the marshmallow. However, they were also told that if they resisted, waiting a mere fifteen minutes, they would get another one and could then have both.

I watched in fascination at the sometimes comical reactions of the children. Fifteen minutes to a child is but a lifetime. Some squirmed. Others contemplated. And others still negotiated within and with themselves.

And then there were those who persevered and doubled their takings.

This study, conducted in the late 1960s was known as the Stanford marshmallow experiment and focused on the concept of delayed gratification.

Years later, researchers found that the kids who resisted gobbling the marshmallow grew up into individuals who coped and performed better in school, the workplace, and life in general, asserting the same willpower that they had demonstrated as younglings. So it seems, delayed gratification has its perks. More importantly, it builds our willpower.

So in the face of adversity, change and tough times, how important is it to have the will to persevere? Very. Without it, we would all simply give up.

And why is it that some people seem to have more focus to willpower than others? And can this be nurtured?

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