By now many of you have heard of the Marshmallow Study, or a version of it was shared with you at a conference or glanced at in an article. #KeySuccessIdeas – It was a series of Experiments conducted by Stanford University Researchers studying the effects of Delayed Gratification in the late 60’s. The experiment was quite simple; children one by one, were placed in a room, sat at a table that had a plate with 1 marshmallow, and were told by the experimenter if they sat and did not eat the marshmallow, in a little while the tester will come back and give them 2 marshmallows.
The essence of the experiment was: You can have an immediate reward, but if you were disciplined over your urges for a little while, you will be given 2 rewards. The little while lasted about 15 minutes and it was not always marshmallows, sometimes experimenters used cookies and pretzels. The real study started after these experiments were completed; it was conducted by then Professor and Psychologist Walter Mischel. He and his graduate students followed up with the kids to see how the 2 different groups faired at life, and if there were any consequences to Delayed Gratification.
I am sure you can surmise the findings; kids who were able to delay their urges over 1 marshmallow and wait to be rewarded 2 marshmallows, tended to do much better in life than their counterparts. All of this is fine and good – I argue that we live in a “Marshmallow World,” if you substitute Marshmallows with Smartphones. Those who do well have impulse control over all the dings, rings, buzzes, and beeps emanating from their devices.
I want to introduce you to the concept of “Residue” and how it is affecting your Cognitive Abilities and robbing you from converting more deals as Real Estate Professionals. But there is an irony; most of the people who need to read this are too distracted by their devices to get this far into this article – I am well aware that the universe has a sense of humor.
Let me share 2 Scenarios around a normal business activity. The Task: Research a property and prepare a thoughtful CMA for an afternoon Appointment. Normal time to accomplish this task and do it well is about 25 minutes.
Scenario #1: You put your phone out of eyesight and hands’ reach; start work on your computer and focus on studying the property, taking notes, pulling the CMA, checking the comparing properties; study the price per square foot, tweak the CMA, prepare some notes to discuss with the homeowner and now the task is complete. Total time: 22 Minutes.
Scenario #2: You do all of these same tasks but when a text message dings you tell yourself it could be important, I’ll do a quick check – your husband just sent you a message telling that he picked your dry cleaning and that he spoke to Kathy about dinner tonight. Sounds nice, no harm done, right? It took a few seconds, you are up to date, and the switch in your attention is not harmful because you can go back to what you were doing a minute ago. But that is not how your mind works; it now has your husband and Kathy to deal with. Kathy rarely asks us to her house, and her husband is too quiet – I don’t think he likes my husband Gary. I got to tell Gary to take it down a notch with the constant jokes, what does he think he is Chandler? Now all of this is happening while you think you are back to working on your CMA – you are now producing a Distracted CMA; one that is correct but lacks the insights and the deep questions you must have for your client.
And here is the other reality – you keep checking your phone every 5 to 10 minutes even if the dings are not there; you have lost Impulse Control over your phone; and a 25 minutes task turns into an hour+. But no harm done; I was not going to do anything anyway after the CMA. These types of lies we tell ourselves keep compounding because Delayed Gratification was never mastered.
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