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Newsletter: Delayed Gratification

(Volume 1, Issue 31)


Quote of the week

“You have power over your mind - not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.” -- Marcus Aurelius

Three recent articles


1. Jerry Neumann describes a unique strategy framework to assist entrepreneurs and investors in making smarter opportunity assessments. In Productive Uncertainty, he proposes that commercial and investment success is based on how well an enterprise uses the shield of technology or customer uncertainty to develop barriers to entry in a new market. The framework conforms with Clayton Christensen's disruptive innovation theory.


2. Pursue Mastery, not Status. Lawrence Yeo outlines a path to avoid the downward spiral caused by comparison. "Mastery is the quest to improve yourself as an end in itself. Comparisons are not made with other people, but only with prior versions of yourself." The trick is to avoid the need for external validation, affirmation and status, but take inspiration from others who have mastered their craft.

3. McKinsey & Co's article Mental health in the workplace describes a "pandemic within the pandemic." Stress, depression and substance abuse cases have risen 50% during the COVID-19 pandemic, and have effects on physical illness, cost and social conditions. Six approaches to addressing the condition: (1) Measure, (2) Prioritize, (3) Place accountability with leaders, (4) Explore interventions like telespsychiatry and precision psychiatry, (5) Expand coverage, and (6) Bring behavioral health services on-site.

Topic of the week: Delayed Gratification


Delayed gratification isn't a new concept. Aristotle wrote in 300 B.C. that "True happiness entails delaying pleasure, and putting in the time, discipline, and patience required to achieve a goal instead of feeling good now." In modern times, the Marshmallow Experiments have popularized the strength of being able to resist giving into immediate pleasures for greater reward in the future.


The video below is a good example of the experiments in children and why delaying gratification is so challenging:


If the ability to delay gratification is so beneficial, how do we get better at it? James Clear suggests viewing delayed gratification as a muscle which you can build with exercise. What are the steps?

  1. Start with a small challenge or habit.

  2. Make small steps, 1% at a time.

  3. Be like Seinfeld and keep your streak of small steps going.

  4. Start with an action that is impossible not to do.

The longer you avoid giving up, or doing something easier with an instant payoff, the more likely it is that you can achieve an even better result.


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