Get rid of instant gratification and achieve success
THE FIRST TOASTMASTERS CLUB OF MADAGASCAR: My Speech
This is a speech I delivered at The First Toastmasters Club of Madagascar. Every Toastmasters Club’s mission is to provide a strongly supportive environment to enhance our public speaking and leadership skills. It results in great self-confidence, happiness and personal growth.
Real change takes time: A baby can’t touch his forehead
Let’s play a very simple game: please, touch your forehead! That’s very simple, nothing to it! But do you know that a 2-year old baby cannot do that? There was a time when performing this simple act was as difficult as playing a whole composition from Mozart for a beginner in piano. Why? Because we first had to take full control our hand. After that, we had to move it to wherever we want. But on top of that, we first had to decode, to decipher and understand the words that came from our parent’s mouth.
If a simple gesture like this took us at least two years, why do we think we can master a skill in a just few days? Let’s say we want be good at public speaking in one month. Worse, we want to be great in one month without even practicing!
What I want to talk about today is instant gratification. We can understand how dangerous it could be in our journey to become a better speaker with Toastmasters. For us to become a long-term success, we have to understand that real change takes time.
Instant gratification is an illusion
In our society, we have this deeply embedded belief that there is a magic pill, a miracle and having results without putting the efforts whatsoever! But as Napoleon Hill said: “there is no such thing as something for nothing”. There is always a counterpart.
Behind every successful man: understanding human nature
We are hardwired to get what we want as soon as possible! A study conducted by Stanford University named “Marshmallow experiment “highlighted this human nature of wanting everything right away! In this study, we observed children who were given two choices: they can either have a marshmallow immediately or two marshmallows if they wait 15 minutes. Because our brain craves instant reward, most of those children chose the first option, or some of them decided to wait a bit but then gave up and went back to the first option.
Marketers and business owners understand that as humans, we want to get the best results with the least efforts and as soon as possible. In our society, we have many businesses around this instant gratification! For example you could hear: change your life in one day. You can lose 20 kilos in 3 days. As we are learning English, we can come across books that promise you to master English within a few weeks.
I must admit that for almost 23 years, I’ve been trapped in this instant gratification paradigm too! One of the biggest shifts I’ve experienced was in 2015, when we started learning Chinese. I was willing to learn all the 3000 characters required for 1 month! Which is simply impossible even if you don’t sleep for a whole month, and if you don’t die of sleep deprivation too before that.
So what then is the link between instant gratification and success and permanent change? If we want to change or acquire a new skill but we are still trapped in the paradigm of instant gratification, we will never succeed, for that, we need to understand that real change takes time.
No more instant gratification: Understanding that real change takes time
Real change takes time; it’s a universal principle. Stephen Covey explained in his book the 7 habits of highly successful people that if you are at step 1; the next challenge is to go to step 2, then step 3, without looking for shortcuts, but following a natural growth. If we plant a seed today, we won’t expect it to grow into a 10 meter-tree tomorrow, it can take years, even decades before it being fully developed.
Stephen Covey and Malcom Gladwell’s books as a conclusion
In his book entitled Outliers analyzing how successful people attained their level of success, Malcom Gladwell highlighted the 10 000-hour principle. If we refer to this 10 000 hour-principle, do you have a rough idea about how long it takes? If you practice something for 2 hours a day, every day, you will complete the 10 000 hours in … 14 years! If you practice for 3 hours, you’ll reach that in 9 years. For a master to perform his skill at best, he practiced for at least 10 000 hours, which is around ten years! SO yes, it takes time to master and be really good at something!
For success, my suggestion to you boils down to this:
- Understand what instant gratification is, it’s human nature but we can fight against it,
- Understand that real change takes time
If it’s a quick change and quick-fix scheme, it won’t last, but if it’s a slow and compounding process, the change will be permanent. What is your choice? The distance between your dreams and reality, is action, so start today, start now!