Delayed Gratification

By Scott Westerman
I’ve been seriously reconnecting with my running these past few weeks. The cooler fall mornings have arrived and with tools like RunKeeper and an iPod GPS, the real time feedback you get is great.

That’s if you can get out of bed, get stretched and get out the front door.

We’ve created a society that expects improved financial performance every quarter and pain relief that is just a swallow away. Things like interrupting a good high REM sleep segment to go out and pound your already creaky knees on the asphalt don’t sync up with a “Delayed Pain” lifestyle.

I often feel it creeping into my psyche.

Thomas Friedman, the New York Times columnist and author, points to a values breakdown in our society, “a national epidemic of get-rich-quickism and something-for-nothingism.” The dot-com boom and subprime bust are two significant results.

“Ask yourself,” writes Friedman, “What made our Greatest Generation great? First, the problems they faced were huge, merciless and inescapable: the Depression, Nazism and Soviet Communism. Second, the Greatest Generation’s leaders were never afraid to ask Americans to sacrifice. Third, that generation was ready to sacrifice, and pull together, for the good of the country. And fourth, because they were ready to do hard things, they earned global leadership the only way you can, by saying: ‘Follow me.’

Whatever your political persuasion may be, sacrificing today to invest in a better tomorrow; the concept of Delayed Gratification is a powerful tool that can help you build sustainable success.

Delayed gratification means setting the alarm an hour earlier so you can knock off that 5K before breakfast.

Delayed gratification means investing in things that strengthen your body and brain instead of things that soften them.

Delayed gratification means making the bed before leaving the house, closing one more sale, spending an extra hour on those important but not urgent things that will ultimately move your forward.

Delayed gratification has it’s benefits, too. Corporate consultant, Judith Wright, notes that, “As we get past our superficial material wants and instant gratification we connect to a deeper part of ourselves, as well as to others, and the universe.”

In an increasingly competitive world, our Greatest Generation values are still winners. Just ask China and India.

Friedman believes that, “China and India have been catching up to America.. because they now have.. values like our Greatest Generation had. That is, a willingness to postpone gratification, invest for the future, work harder than the next guy and hold their kids to the highest expectations.”

That sounds like a good formula for success in any generation.

And, in truth, real gratification comes from an entirely different place.

James Dean nailed it: “Gratification comes in the doing, not the results.”

Have a gratifying week!!