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Science Shows, This Is The Only Skill You Need To Be Successful In Life

Science Shows, This Is The Only Skill You Need To Be Successful In Life

How do you stay ahead in a world where systems and standards appear to change overnight? How do you remain competent and original in a job market where it seems more credentials are required every year? How do you actually finish your best work in a world, where people often barely start? Most of all, how do you ensure you can look back on life and know for a fact you’ve lived life to the fullest? Science shows us there’s only one skill needed to be successful in life: delayed gratification.

Yes, it’s true; countless newspapers and online publications have covered delayed gratification for years now. This may lead you to wonder why I’m covering the topic at all. While many papers and articles have detailed the scientific studies themselves, as well as direct quotes from researchers, few posts on delayed gratification actually equip the reader with concise and actionable tips for everyday use. This article will not only express how crucial delayed gratification really is but will also break down the larger components into bite-sized pieces of practicality.

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Where Delayed Gratification Became Famous?

The concept of delayed gratification is best known in association with psychologist Walter Mischel’s marshmallow experiment. At Stanford University in the 1960s, Mischel and his students used marshmallows to determine how well children could embody patience and hold off for a better option in the future. Kids were given the choice to eat one marshmallow now, or wait 15-20 minutes alone and receive a second marshmallow, simply for being patient. Straightforward to understand, but not exactly easy to execute (at least, not for all children).

The results and follow-up results have been widely published and circulated ever since, documenting that the kids who delayed gratification have done better in virtually all areas of life ever since. The children who waited for the second marshmallow abused substances less frequently, achieved better grades, experienced greater health and proper weight ranges, built stronger social skills, and had a smoother time handling stress. Patience is a virtue in and of itself, but as Mischel’s experiment proved, patience offers an individual a whole host of long-lasting benefits.

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Here’s Why Delayed Gratification Is Essential

At its core, why is delayed gratification so powerful and essential? The ability to delay gratification reveals emotional intelligence and these two traits can take you long way in life. More specifically, delaying gratification shows that you recognize a better result is available after a certain amount or type of work is put in. As the old quote goes, “The dictionary is the only place where success comes before work”

Genuine, lasting success and satisfaction only come as a result of putting in the right kind of work first. It’s easy enough to dream up what you want your life to look and feel like, but it’s entirely different to create a mental framework and then execute when and where you need to. Below, let’s look at three tips on how to optimize your use of delayed gratification.

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  • What’s the situation I’m faced with?

Getting clarity on the dilemma in front of you will help you assess whether your challenge is really worth it. To be honest with yourself from the outset, and determine if a challenge is worthwhile or not, is the best decision you can make. Look at what the end goal is, take stock of the work required and then decide if you know you’re up for it or not.

  • Do I really want this result?

If you’ve found a challenge that leads to a highly desirable result, you know it’s time to make a battle plan. Anything worth having comes at a cost, so here’s where we get tactical.

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In Mischel’s experiment and subsequent imitations, the children who remained patient often crafted games or tricks to play on themselves to be successful. Some sang a song, others “danced” in their chair, and some even played with the marshmallow without eating it. Regardless of the choice of distraction, the kids found a way to “make time shorter”. They employed some kind of method that made the waiting far easier.

It’s your job to do the same, no matter what your obstacle is. The people who are most successful with their goals are those who find methods of making the work more enjoyable by itself.

  • What kind of rewards do I associate hard work with?

In his absolutely mind-blowing article, ‘Self-Improvement’, author Brian Kim highlights an oft-overlooked aspect of delayed gratification. He points out that the real way to grasp the core of delayed gratification is to look not at the reward structure, but at the work structure. In other words, when someone emotionally deploys delayed gratification, it’s because they first mentally sized up the work in front of them. Kim points out that delayed gratification users “associate hard work with high rewards.”

In order to utilize delayed gratification on the deepest level possible, it’s important to see the work required as a sacrifice that invariably produces an extremely desirable result. It’s not always about focusing on the reward; it’s about enjoying the work that is already necessary.

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Brad Johnson

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Last Updated on August 19, 2019

The Best Interview Questions to Hire Only the Elites

The Best Interview Questions to Hire Only the Elites

When I worked in Campus Housing – now more than five years ago, wow – I was often part of an annual interviewing experience known as Placement. The University of Wisconsin-Osh Kosh runs an amazing event every year (as do other professional associations). They turn the entire conference center into an interviewing cattle call. And I just want to say that I mean that in the very best way.

Colleges and Universities descend upon the campus with their interview teams and they spend about three days meeting every possible candidate they can for whatever positions are available. By the time the final social event rolls around and the placement teams get back in the mini-van or Uber to the airport, there are always about 20 candidates who have risen to the top. The candidates whom everyone wants to hire.

At one of my previous employers, we would have a debrief meeting before leaving the conference site. Each interview team would make a list of our list of top candidates. And since our Director did not believe in wasting time, he would vet those candidates at the conference site so our Assistant Director could make on campus interview invitations the following Monday.

I’m sure that corporate America has a similar type of placement event, especially large organizations who hire entry level staff right out of college. The top talent have been identified and now “everyone” will do what they can to attract those candidates.

This is probably similar to colleges pursuing high school athletes to play for them.

However you, the employer, are going about hiring good talent, there are specific interview questions that can be asked. According to Forbes Human Resources Council,

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“The secret to attracting high-quality applicants is differentiating yourself from other industry players, and showing top talent how joining your company can help them reach their career goals.”

So, how to hire the elites by asking the best interview questions?

Craft interview questions that will convey your message: your company is unique, cutting edge, and values their contributions.

Melissa Nelsen of Johnson Service Group shares specific things about what candidates are seeking in their next position. These include:[1]

  • Stability
  • Security
  • Opportunity for Growth
  • Vision
  • Culture
  • Innovation
  • Benefits

With this in mind, here are some possible questions that employers can ask to attract top talent.

“Please describe five ways you expect this position to change over the next five years, taking into consideration company growth, industry advancement, and technology changes.”

Stability — If we define job stability as the duration one perceives to keep his/her current job without external factors, then ask this question about your industry. Require your candidate to forecast something within the company or industry.

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“There are many other candidates applying for this position who possess the same skills as you. With that in mind, what three unique factors do you bring to our organization?”

Security — Job security exists when Human Resources cannot just replace “me” with another person. “I” provide unique skills and talents that won’t necessarily be found in a new candidate.

It’s different from stability, where the job you have is stable in the company and industry, and you don’t worry about not having a paycheck. Ask something that will require the candidate to share those unique talents.

“Where do you see yourself and/or your career five years from now?” or “What are your long-term career goals?”

Opportunity for Growth — Will there be room for promotion within your company for this candidate? He might be looking for a place where he can contribute and be promoted several times over.

While in my experience, this is hard to do these days, it does not mean your top candidates will not aspire to do this.

“What values are most important for you at your place of business?” or “How does our vision and mission align with your personal values?”

Vision — Candidates want to know that their company shares values and has a view of the future. Get to their ideas of this by asking what they are seeking in an employer. You’ll know if the top talent want to be with you if their answer aligns with your company vision and mission.

“What three things are you seeking in your day to day job environment? or “How can we insure that we are providing a work environment that is comfortable and meets your needs?”

Culture — Finall, that question of “fit.” Candidates want to know that their new place of business will feel right, they will belong and enjoy coming to work because they just love being there.

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As an aside here, this is an area of my career that took me a very long time to appreciate and understand. There were days when all I cared about was salary, job title or a cool city. It took a couple very poor fit situations before I figured out myself how to ask the questions I needed in order to make a decision, should I be offered a job. Even then it didn’t always work.

So we, as the employer, can make this a bit easier on that Top Talent by asking a few of these questions ourselves.

I loved this question explanation from tint.com:[2]

“We know that you have choices, so if we make you an offer, we obviously want it to meet your needs. And that requires knowing what factors that you will use (i.e. pay, job duties, fit with your manager, levels of responsibility, etc.) to determine if ‘our job’ is the right job for you. So if you had a choice between two offers for your next job, please list the top five factors that you would use to evaluate and accept the superior job opportunity. Please list them in their descending order of importance to you.”

This question set doesn’t beat around the bush. Seriously. I wish I’d thought of this one myself.

“Tell me about a time when you lacked the skill or experience to complete a project or assignment? How did you get through it?” or “Select one of our products (or services) and share with me three ways you might be able to make it better.”

Innovation — Candidates want to know that they are going to work for a company or organization that is on the cutting edge of new and innovative practices and technology. They want to know that their employer is going places; and obviously the company wants this from their candidates.

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We are only as good as our worst employee, right? Try these questions to sense how your candidate can utilize innovative practices.

And lastly, for Benefits, I’m not offering an interview question here, as I personally do not believe that benefits should be discussed during the initial interview.

Much of this can be found by the candidate on the company website. And if the candidate has done her research, she will ask anything that has piqued her interest.

The Bottom Line

By putting emphasis on these areas of value for today’s job seekers, employers can seek and sign the top talent for your industry and make your Senior Management proud. And don’t shy away from asking candidates to further explain their answers.

These are fairly “non-traditional” interview questions that could trip up your candidate. So give them room to think and encourage them through non-verbal cues. Here’s to hiring the best possible talent for your team!

More Resources About Job Interviews

Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

Reference

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