Leadership Seminar (hosting Shane Willard) HTML version
and they study them over a long period of time; the same group of people, over a very
long period of time. It's called a longitudinal study.
What they did back in 1965 is, they took a group of 6-year-olds, and they were going to
study that same group from 6 to 36; so from 1965 to 1995 they were going to track their
progress. You'd have to compensate people pretty well to do this, I would imagine, but
here's what they did when they were six years old is, they put all of these kids in a room.
This is one of the questions they were asking: how does a kid's ability to delay
gratification at age 6, translate to that same kid's ability to delay gratification at 36? So
hey put homemade, piping-hot, chocolate-chip cookies in front of them! The kids came
in, and sat around the table; and every one of them had a plate, with a piping-hot, still-
smoking, freshly-homemade chocolate-chip cookie in front of them.
They were only given one set of instructions, because six year olds can't handle more
than one set of instructions. The instruction was this: you cannot eat your cookie. Ooh!
If you eat your cookie, there will be no consequences. We're not going to be mad at
you, but you will not get the prize.
If you can wait 10 minutes, and not eat your cookie for 10 minutes, then we're going to
take your one cookie away - and we're going to give you three cookies! So if you can
just wait 10 minutes, we're going to give you three cookies; but if you can't wait 10
minutes, you can eat your one - but that's all you'll get.
So they left the room, and then they go behind one of those like mirror things and film
them. They watch the behavior of these kids sitting around, and you can see that their
willpower starts to break down. One kid leans over and starts smelling his cookie. One
kid actually took his plate and licked his cookie - because they didn't say you couldn't
lick it; they just said you couldn't eat it!
Finally, there's this moment of break-down. The one kid, the kid that's going to break
first, somebody's going to break first. The kid that's going to break first picks up his
cookie, and there's this collective: NOOOOO!
It's kind of like in Star Wars III, remember when Anakin becomes Darth Vader?
Remember that? He becomes Darth Vader, and he's Luke's father; and Anakin is like
Luke. You kind of put it together; so in Star Wars III you're going into the movie theatre,
knowing that he's going to become Darth Vader. But you're sitting there, and the whole
way you're like: NOOO! If you could only know how this is going to turn out, this is going
to be really bad for everybody!
How many of you know decisions like this are really easy to see in other people, but
very difficult to see in us? It's very easy to do! So the kid picks up his cookie and eats it;
and once one kid ate his cookie, then there was a chain reaction… Other kids started
eating their cookie - but some kids held on; and so at exactly the 10 minute mark, the