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Failing Goleman’s test



In the world of “instant”, “delay” is a swear word…. But it is the instant that leads to permanent delays ! When Prof Martins showed us the video of the test that was conducted with children on whether they are able to delay gratification and wait to eat the marshmallows – I did ask the question to myself, can I delay gratification ? The work that Daniel Goleman and others have done on emotional intelligence and proving how children who are able to delay gratification go on to become better adjusted and more successful adults is truly amazing.

To answer my own question – I would have failed the test 50% of the time and passed it 50% of the time and if I look back in my life, every time I have failed the test, the consequences have not been pleasant. Just the day before, I came across Deepak Chopra’s article on the same topic and how the instant, here and now pleasures keep you away from your big goals. An interesting read. Conscious lifestyle

My short fuse and my need to get things “now” is well known – from challenging my manager in an open forum to buying a car in a few hours to instant friendships that went horribly wrong – I have done it all. My friends struggle with my need for constantly staying in touch and not being able to delay knowing what’s happening in their lives.

At work – I have learnt the hard way to delay gratification, learnt to wait for results to come in. I understand culture takes a while to build, change takes a while to be accepted and I go in knowing I have to wait for the results. I do have the patience for it.

The challenge of delaying gratification and displaying emotional maturity for most of us comes when we take on new roles. We go in and want to shake the chandeliers and hear the glass beads jingle and bring about the big change !! A sure way to fail. I think GE, the CEO factory needs to make Daniel Goleman’s book their bible. Half the folks that they have exported to other organizations as CEO’s have been spectacular failures because they went in and wanted instant results, no delayed gratification !!!

Holding the silver tongue back in golden silence has tremendous benefits… Infact delaying gratification is what Stephen Covey spoke of in a different way, when he spoke of the gap between stimulus and response and using the gap to frame your response. How many of us recognise the gap and how many of us can increase that gap – not by much, just a minute or even half a minute makes you say or do something completely different. One of my responses to a Facebook post by Ganesh, still haunts me – I was unbelievably harsh,and it came from the 50% of me that is unable to delay gratification !!

There are bigger consequences of not being able to delay gratification – the recent CIA chief’s resignation because of his affair with his biographer. Both individually brilliant, with CV’s to die for, but unable to delay gratification leading to disastrous consequences. Arnold Schwarzenegger, several of our ministers, Narendra Modi’s comments on Sonia Gandhi, the list is endless. Why even our dear Draupadi in Mahabharata – laughing at the inappropriate moment and leading to the annihilation of her entire clan nearly. One moment of not minding the gap between stimulus and response !!

A good way to delay gratification is to play the recorded warning that the metro train has at every station, “please mind the gap” … Between stimulus and response. Not only will you safely get off the train, you will also walk out of the station without tripping over. Find your own way of minding the gap, it is hard work and a lot of heartburn though. Am trying… 🙂

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Categories: Corporate musings

2 comments

  1. Very true observations and very well said. It’s good to know that one of the two takeaway for me from Stephen Covey’s also resonates with you ” Stimulus -Response ” . The other one which I retained was ” There is big enough pie in the world for each one of us to grab”.

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