Don’t bet on anyone but yourself. There are hundreds of marshmallows in life One just needs to hold out, says Conor Neill
Conor Neill, lecturer of managing people in IESE, Spain, begins by asking, “Who would you bet on? Imagine you had 200 people you know best in this world in this room. I give you this deal…I give 1000 euros and a name and I will give you 10 per cent of what they make month after month. Who would you choose? “I was asked this question 10 years ago by Warren Buffet...some faces did come to my mind…”
What criteria is your mind already using when it puts up a couple of faces before you? Neill dismisses the idea of basing the decision on the score cards of the people you know to make your choice…. Even a 12-year-old will tell you, grades in school are no measure of a person.” So he wonders if you would base your friendship and bet on your best friend. Not really.
Neill says there is one measure in psychology which decides your success in the future…in just any field. The test is called the marshmallow test. It can be done even on a three-four year old child. The test involves giving a child a marshmallow saying it belongs to her. Then the psychologist leaves the room saying when he or she comes back, if the marshmallow is still there, the child will get two of them. Neill says 50 per cent of the children eat the marshmallow before the psychologist returns and 50per cent do not. The 50 per cent that do not eat the marshmallow live a life quantitatively and qualitatively better. What is even more amazing is that the child, who does not eat the marshmallow avoids looking at it for he has recognised that he has so little control over himself.
“Warren Buffet has three criteria…the second criteria is energy…health and a bias to action…people who are healthy and do not fall ill and even if they do get back to work the next day because they recover fast. And those who act not just think of action. The third criteria is intelligence. Not business school intelligence. Not research intelligence. He is talking of adaptive intelligence...which means if you see a lamp post coming towards you, you have the intelligence to study its movement pattern and avoid a blow on the head but instead get it on the shoulder and keep moving on. The number one criteria is however most important and that is integrity. Integrity is an alignment about your calendar and you….that you should be able to say no…so that your time is not divided into the values of other people,” says Neill.
Then Neill suggests you bet on yourself and gives three tools to maximise these criteria. Intelligence: write stuff down…write people you have met, what you have learnt, what you want to do…Neill says he has written every day of his life since he was 14. “Start writing your life down. It is the most valuable resource you have. Describe your marshmallow.”
Energy: I have spent a lot of time interviewing the high profile athletes of Spain…Joseph Arjam tells me he finishes because he never thinks beyond 15 minutes…his mind never goes beyond 15 minutes. He says anybody can run 15 minutes... and he runs marathons twice a day!...Deal with one marshmallow at a time. Be like a horse, it has no concept of a finish…run till you can. Deal with the next unit at a time.
Integrity: This world is full of good intention, but have you spent enough time on it? The coherence between your value and your time is where integrity begins….start getting the minutes dedicated to what you want to do. There are hundreds of marshmallows in your life…success in life is not one big decision. Failure is not one bad decision…it is repeated bad decisions. We underestimate what we can achieve in a day. Get your mind 100 per cent into what you do…
Temptations are difficult to resist…see that you do not have to face them. Keep your diary to monitor yourself. Then you can bet on yourself.