Motivate Yourself 122: Building On Your Foundations
Have you seen the Royal Navy advert that’s been shown over the last 12 months on TV?
Watch it here if you haven’t.
So, imagine that the voice over artist jumped from talking about fixing a skateboard to fixing a Type 45 Destroyer.
It’s too big a jump isn’t it? It doesn’t feel achievable.
To be the best you can be we need those steps in-between and we need the foundations to build upon before anything else.
No-one is born able to do cartwheel, you have to start with a foundation.
You learn to crawl, to walk, to run and jump and with a bit of practise you get to do a cartwheel.
It’s a process that has a place in so many aspects of life, but if you set your sights too high you’ll either fail or not even bother as the goal seems so far off and unrealistic.
So why aim so high in the first place?
Maybe it’s impatience. We are becoming quite an impatient group nowadays and because of modern society it does seem to be getting worse and may cause problems.
Because once it becomes the norm society WILL become lazier, it might start with not being bothered to prepare a meal but that attitude can easily spread into taking the escalator instead of the steps. or watching a film adaptation rather than read the real book.
If these become the norm then so does watching a YouTube video of someone talking about a topic at school that you’re studying rather than actually studying it yourself.
OK these are small steps of behaviour that might not seem that bad but in a few more steps time it’s the norm to decide that it’s easier to sit on benefits rather than work.
I’m probably catastrophising a little but we can all agree that these people exist, and have always been there but it is becoming more normal to let something or someone else do the work for us so that we don’t have to.
All of this because the foundations were wrong.
So what foundations do we need to build on?
Let me first tell you about Walter Mischel’s experiments.
it goes back to 1970 when a psychologist named Walter Mischel placed a cookie in front of a group of children and gave them a choice: they could either eat the cookie right there and then, or they could wait until he returned from a brief errand and then be rewarded with a second cookie to eat as well.
However, If they didn’t wait, they’d be allowed to eat only the first cookie. Not surprisingly, as soon as he left the room, most children ate the cookie almost immediately.
A few children, though, resisted eating the first cookie long enough to receive the second one.
Mischel followed these children’s education with great interest and what he discovered was that the children who were best able to delay gratification did better in school and had fewer behavioural problems than the children who could only resist eating the cookie for a few minutes.
They also ended up with SAT scores that were 210 points higher on average.
He monitored the children for a bit longer and, as adults, the children who could delay gratification completed college at higher rates than the other children and then went on to earn higher incomes.
In contrast, the children who had the most trouble delaying gratification had higher rates of trouble with the Police once they grew up and were more likely to struggle with drug and alcohol problems.
So, in order for us all to be the best we can be, these experiments, which have been replicated dozens of times with the same results, suggest that our ability to delay gratification may be one of the most important skills we can learn.
If it becomes the norm to put effort in in order to get an end result then we’re far more likely to achieve our goals.
If it becomes the norm that we have patience then we can start by repairing a skateboard and then take the steps to repair a type 45 destroyer.
Just think about all the things we can achieve with that attitude!
Think of something that you’d like to achieve that has always seemed unrealistic, there’s a fair chance that you can break it down into manageable steps and see the end result.
Writing a book
Learning a musical instrument
Becoming more confident in social situations
These are all achievable but need the right foundations, so check what your foundations are because if you’re starting out with the attitude of watching the film instead of reading the book and taking the escalator instead of the steps, then you might have to look at things with a better perspective.
A good Therapist or Coach will guide you through that process and help you to motivate yourself through it all.
And if you want me to help you with that then you know where to find me.