Alex Orlov, Tetics Management School, and today we will talk about the well-known myth that says if we wait, things will become much better, immediately and how that actually doesn’t work in practice.
(If you don’t have a spare 5 minutes to read this text now, then it’s better to put it off until the evening)
There is a famous piece of research called the “Marshmallow Experiment” (Stanford Marshmallow Experiment, a series of studies on delayed gratification conducted in the late 1960s and early 1970s). They offered children a plate of marshmallows and told each child if he/she didn’t eat one right away, but waited for 15 minutes, he/she would receive 2 marshmallows, and so on. Years later they then measured the success rate in the lives of those who had waited (named the delayed gratification group). It was found that they showed completely different outcomes in adult life, compared to those who ate the marshmallows immediately.
However, only 90 children were offered marshmallows, and the analysis of the experiment didn’t take into account that children from poor families (let’s tell it how it is) were more likely to take a marshmallow before the 15 minutes had passed. Perhaps because no marshmallows were waiting for them at home, or they had already had the experience of adults (mom-dad) promising to buy them something, which they then later failed to buy, and so the child just didn’t trust adults. “They said they would buy it for me, and now they won’t” would be a significant motivating factor to immediately eat what is in front of you. In addition, children from richer families know that there are sweets at home (it wouldn’t be a problem to wait) plus, they have more opportunities to show “outstanding results” in their later life. In short, there have been other studies, with more accurately designed “panels”, that have shown that the Stanford experiment is not a definitive analysis.
“If you didn’t have a bicycle as a kid, and now you have a Bentley, that still doesn’t change the fact that you didn’t have a bicycle as a kid.”
So, what does that mean? The story that experiencing loss or limitations earlier in life will result in getting more afterward is just fiction? Dismissed.
Have we been deceived?
Let’s take you and me for example, adults. Let’s forget for a moment (may they forgive us) people who live and breathe TV news and the problems imposed from external sources, after all, everyone has their own preferences for how they feed their minds.
Some people build professional careers, solve complex tasks, dive into a subject area, know how to spot problems and work with them and who look for a more interesting and fulfilling life. Why do they succeed?
To start doing something new, you need to invest time and learning. If we are talking about acquiring a skill that entails a more arduous approach than watching a 10-15 minute demonstration of “take this, put it here”, this gives rise to a more logical question:
Why does a person study something, try out ideas, screw it on / unscrew it, listen to some podcasts on the way to work, visit events and still find time for interesting and useful leisure pursuits?
It is unlikely it’s just because he/she is inside his/her own fantasy bubble thinking “afterward everything will be fine, everything will be cool!” This kind of blind faith wouldn’t motivate him/her for very long and would be short-lived.
There are people who, through an incredible act of will, make themselves go to the gym regularly for a month or two, and then quit. Some go to the gym regularly and months down the line are still saying they like it.
The story is probably not about a one-off event based on mind over matter – I’ll sign up, pay, and then I’m committed – but more to do with the pleasure we gain by making progress. Hormones, endorphins, is that all it could be?
The majority of us are still bearing the emotional/hormonal/psychological scars of the learning experiences we endured in the past. Boring lectures, unrealistic grades, burnt-out teachers, irrelevant subjects. Everything that we achieved was based on a heroic strength of will, with the model of minimizing efforts fixed firmly in our minds.
Maybe that’s why when you saw this email, or read this note on your social network of choice, your immediate reaction was to scroll/delete?
“Is this nerd talking about this studying thing again?!”
Because I have seen repeated confirmation of this theory over the past 12 years.
A few thousand students join our short-term and long-term programs each year. And there are no recorded courses for you to ” finish at home”, I am talking about live programs to observe the students. Yes, there are some recorded programs, we’ve found areas where they can be successfully incorporated into the program, but this is not about them.
We run two groups for team leads and project managers every year. Please note that usually, those people are not particularly pleasure-focused individuals, they tend to acknowledge that time is our most limited resource.
So, this is what we see in every course we run, and why we don’t attempt to replace our live programs with recorded materials and homework/tests that will be checked by uploading a script onto a personal account.
During the learning process, the emotional state of a student influences the result more than the experience he has when he begins the program. And this is logical – if you feel good during the learning process, you study. And if you study, you reach the end of the program. That means that you develop a general overview of the subject, and understand where and how to apply everything that you have learned. Bingo!
A man who does what he likes does it better than one doing something he doesn’t.
(My psychology professors would be pleased with me, huh?)
To like what they’re doing, people should feel involved and dive wholeheartedly into the process. And neither recorded lectures nor uploaded tests can replace a human being: a coach, a speaker, a supervisor, or a student from your group. We are social creatures. We feel better when we can share a failure or the joy of solving a complex problem with someone. We need someone to say “I can see you’re feeling down today. You’ve been quiet during the lesson, what’s wrong with you?”, and we have a choice, we can say “Yes, I do feel a bit down today ” or “It can wait till Monday, this time is for me, I’m learning and getting smarter.”
So, what can you do if the process of learning, as a tool for engaging in more complex and interesting tasks, doesn’t work by the strength of will alone? Unfortunately, delayed gratification doesn’t always work. How can you push yourself to study?
Don’t push yourself — it doesn’t work.
Do you remember the movie “Only Old Men Go to War”?
— Harp, but I’ve hated music since childhood …
You should look for, and choose, programs where you will learn the things you need to know with a group of smart and engaged people like yourself. And the learning format should also be with and about people. Where, during the admission process, someone will make sure that completely burnt-out and toxic people don’t get on to the program and ruin the energy and spirit of the group with their whining or inappropriate skepticism.
We know who we work for. We know you don’t have time, and you won’t have any more time available in the future. We know that business requires you to always run faster and faster. And we know how to help you escape from the million minor stresses and tasks that surround you so that you can focus on yourself and your professional development. And, most importantly, we know how to help you get pleasure from this experience. Because then you will be able to finish the course, master the skills you need to progress, and above all, do so with such enjoyment that you will want to take these newfound skills to your team and project.
That’s the way it works. That’s why we have live learning, live trainers and we interview students before they get an offer, rather than holding another “pseudo-technological platform” with a million hours of materials.
The courses start in the fall. We are still offering a “summer price” to help make your choice not only the right one but also the most profitable.
There are still a few months left for you to clear all your current tasks and have a rest before starting your first class at Tetics Management School in September.
We are waiting to welcome those of you who want to study, master key skills, and apply that knowledge to their career.