How long can you wait to eat the marshmallow?

Back in the 60’s, Walter Mischel ran a study on delayed gratification. He sat a bunch of different 3 years olds alone in a room with a marshmallow on a plate. He told them that they can have one marshmallow or if they could sit there with the marshmallow and not eat it, he would be back in 15 minutes to give them a second marshmallow. But if the marshmallow is gone, no extra marshmallow.

Some of the kids eat the marshmallow and some of them wait to get a second one. Years later, they tracked down these kids from the study to see how they were doing.

It turns out the ones that waited ended up getting into a more prestigious school, had better SAT scores, better BMI scores, and were better or happier in every category you can imagine.

This idea of holding these two juxtaposed thoughts: do I want one marshmallow or do I want two marshmallows; is enough to find success. It’s about dealing with tension for a better result and not filling it every time it comes. This is not something we are born with but it can be learned.

The double play

The double play in Baseball is really fun to watch. You can’t help but be in awe with how fluid a really good double play can look. It’s magic. But there is no magic unless everyone quits worrying about who get’s the credit.

You can’t help but see the magic of a double play geting lost around the office. Everyone knows their job, their assignment but somehow it’s difficult to get the ball moving.

If you hesitate or blink, it’s too late. The magic is lost. You can’t worry about credit every time you make a play.

Never and always

When is it a good time to get married? To start a family? How about starting a business? Or that project you have been putting off? When is it a good time to make art?

Never and always.

The logical choice is to wait. Wait for market conditions to be right. Wait until you’ve gained more market share. Wait until you have more credentials. Wait until you are in a better financial situation. Wait for the recession to be over. Or wait until you have enough experience. Wait until someone gives you authority. Wait until your ducks are in a row.

If all we do is spend our time waiting, then we never spend any time doing.

Disruptions are never practical and they never occur at the right time. Because of nature. It feels safer to fly low, to blend in, to follow. But paradoxically waiting makes ourselves more desperate and less likely to make a difference. We trade in for what we believe is safety for what makes us alive: to fly high, to stand out, to lead.

To dare and create something that matters. These spaces. Is what makes us human.

Play the game: part deux

A few weeks ago, I had an opportunity to attend a local arts festival where two scholarships were handed out to the community. Long story short: only one person picked themselves to play the game.

To follow-up what happened, that night I went home and wrote a letter to the Mayor of Midvale. I asked if the scholarship was still available. I also recommended a young man who I personally knew in the neighborhood.

Since that time this young man wrote a follow-up letter to the Mayor. Met with her. Met with Steven Henager College. Received the scholarship and now has an opportunity to go to college. Not only that his sister accompanied this young man to the Steven Henager meeting. Had the courage to tell her story and she also received a scholarship.

The bottom line: it all starts by picking yourself to play the game. Yes, the original letter could have been rejected. That rejection could have confirmed the voice that screams,”How dare you! You see, you flew too close to the sun. This is proof. You can’t do this. Who do you think you are?” But what was the worst that could happen? The risk of rejection and shame was small. The world wouldn’t even known about it. As James Carse wrote, the goal of the infinite game is to keep playing. And if it doesn’t crush you then you can keep playing.

Fight the busy

Anyone watching an hour of television a day has just demonstrated that they have an hour of their time to do something that matters.

The average American is watching 5 hours of television per day, but somehow we don’t have time to do the things that make us happy: connect, make a difference, make something new.

The internal narrative needs to change. If we could get rid of the things that take 80% of our time that only bring 20% of their value: what could you do with all this extra time?

The amount of choices are overwhelming and can be crippling (we are the most obese, most medicated, and might be the most unhappy generation of Americans than ever before).

The only way to fight the busy is to say no. No to the extra curricular activities that are not bringing value to the home. You might be judged. You might think you are a bad parent. It might seem weird at first to cut the cable. But it may just be the thing that saves your life.

Are we flying too low?

Icarus was instructed not to fly too high. His wings made of wax would melt if he flew too close to the sun and he would surely parish.

However, Icarus was also instructed not to fly too low. The weight of the sea would inhibit his ability to fly and he would parish.

We are not hard-wired to fly high. It’s easier (and if feels safer) to fly low. It’s difficult to stand up and say follow me. It’s not easy to take responsibility and to not worry about credit.

We fly too low too often. We give in to the resistance and accept that we are not like the few who are chosen to fly higher.