Marshmallows and trust

There’s a famous Stanford marshmallow experiment, that links delayed gratification with better life outcomes. I read about it years ago and have worked at improving my ability to delay gratification, with mixed success.

Very recently I read about follow-up studies on the experiment, that suggest it’s not really self-control at the heart delaying gratification. It’s trust.

Trust that what you give up leads to what you’re looking for or have been promised. It speaks to the relationship between the person or system offering a reward, and the individual who chooses what action to take.

Folks with a disadvantaged background or or have experienced many broken promises will be quicker to take the marshmallow. To be transactional. To fight the system. Without trust and healthy relationships, it’s hard to believe in longer term possibilities.

This is pertinent as we think about national policy, organisational cultures, team structures, and so much more. To achieve better outcomes we can’t offer the marshmallow and tut when it’s eaten quickly. We have to build in a way that places faith in the long term. In trust and respect.

In showing up consistently with good intent.

Kindly, keep going.

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