Monday, December 5, 2011

Marshmallows and Motivation

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I had a talk in Dela Salle University in Manila with a group of graduate students taking up Industrial Organization. The topic focused on motivation, either employee motivation or employer motivation (if you are a business owner).

The question I tried to answer is; what motivates you?

I began my talk with a study conducted by Mr. Walter Mischel’s 1960 experiment, known as the Marshmallow study. In his experiment, he gave hungry 4 year-olds a marshmallow, but he told them that if they were able to wait for him to come back without eating the marshmallow he would give them another one.

I know most of you will say that this is a study of patience and self-control. You are right and I won’t argue otherwise. But I also saw how one can be motivated to wait just to have two sumptuous and juicy marshmallows.

For these 4 year old kids, having two marshmallows was enough motivation to wait for Mr. Mischel. They can see, smell and experience the taste of how having two marshmallows is better than one marshmallow.

What motivates you? What is your marshmallow?

Consider this, you are working hard to achieve what end? To realize what dream? For you to be motivated, you must have a goal – make it a crystal clear goal. Then make steps to ensure that you will be able to get what you want on a given period of time.

I advised these graduate students that if you want to achieve your goal and realize your dreams, you must make a constant decision to work towards it. If you are not sold on your dreams, any obstacle that comes your way will be a reason for you to give up.

What motivates you?

Begin with the end in mind… And work backwards. Make and create steps to achieve it. Then continually decide that you will achieve your goals no matter what…