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Can you resist temptation?
by Karen Schmidt

It used to be that we all had the ability to be resilient. Life almost forced us to be. People were made resilient by World Wars, economic hardship and isolation. Today, we live in a society where resilience is not highly valued nor tested as often.

I believe that the average person today is less resilient because they have lost the ability to delay gratification. We want everything and we want it now! We live in a fast food, drive through, microwave, buy now, pay later society where the idea of waiting for anything has become unacceptable. If you don’t believe me, watch what happens when a teller machine runs out of cash or a serious car accident blocks a busy road. Most people can’t deal with the inconvenience and we get various types of “rage” as a result.

The test
Many of us would fail what researchers* call the “Marshmallow test” which is designed to measure a person’s emotional intelligence or EQ. Your EQ is seen as a much more accurate way to predict your success in life than your IQ. Researchers were keen to find a way to measure EQ in children so they could catch the problem early and help them develop their skills and improve their quality of life.

Their Marshmallow test for EQ went something like this:

• 100 x four year old kids
• Placed one at a time in a room with a marshmallow on the table
• Told by an adult they could eat it whenever they liked but if they waited for the adult to come back in 5 minutes they could have another marshmallow
• Some ate it straight away, some waited a while and some waited for the adult to come back
• Children then monitored regularly over the next 20 years to see how their lives turned out compared to their test results
• Children who passed the test (and didn’t eat the marshmallow) turned out to be socially competent, self assertive and able to cope with life’s ups and downs.
• Children who failed the test were stubborn, easily upset, resentful and prone to jealousy and envy.

Replace the Marshmallow with something you really want and substitute 5 minutes for 5 months or 5 years and ask yourself “would I pass the test?”. It is really easy to give into the temptation of taking the easy way, of blaming circumstances for our failure to achieve or saying it’s all too hard. The truth is we can all achieve our goals if we can learn to be resilient . . . to bounce back when things go wrong, to delay gratification.

What about you?
So take a look at what you are trying to achieve (or perhaps what you have given up on trying to achieve) and see if in fact the stumbling block for you is an inability to delay gratification. You can practice it in the simplest ways . . . finish that proposal before you get a cup of coffee, put going for a walk ahead of watching TV or do something that won’t show immediate results but will help you in the long term. In other words, learn to resist temptation!

* Taken from a research study quoted in Daniel Goleman’s book “Working with Emotional Intelligence”.

Karen Schmidt from Let’s Grow! is the re-engagement expert.
Her mission is to help you refresh, reignite and re-engage your team for success.
Contact her on 0411 745 430 or visit



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