Happy New year! Yes, the New Year is upon us and while people are busy breaking their New Year resolutions already, you and I are busy planning and strategizing for long-term success, right?
So you want to make more money, be healthier and sing better in 2013? Well, having goals are great. But have you thought of what the skills are that you need to develop in order to accomplish your goals? Let me address one fundamental skill here.
I want to share something about Christmas celebration – a fundamental difference between Christmases in Sweden that I grew up with, and how I have come to understand Christmas is often celebrated in the US.
And I’m not talking up the religious aspects now. I’m talking about the way presents are given.
You see in Sweden, it is on Christmas Eve that we get presents. For some, Santa mysteriously arrives in the evening. Unfortunately, poor Dad just missed him since moments earlier he went out for a walk or went to “buy the evening newspaper” at the store. (Hmmm, he always returned saying the store was closed). For others, Santa arrived during the night and the presents were found under the Christmas Tree in the morning, but were to be opened in the evening.
The point here is that Christmas Eve for a kid is just about the longest and most trying day ever. It is the ultimate test of patience. Once has to wait endlessly until one can finally open Christmas presents.
Then, once it is time to open presents, one does it in an orderly fashion. One present at a time. One person at a time.
As far as I have come to understand, many American kids wake up and open their presents right away on the morning of Christmas Day. From those I have spoken with, it is more of a process of ripping open the presents as fast as possible.
This has always made me wonder. Is there something inherent in the culture that has become accustomed to fast foods, quick fixes, quick-diets, and make-money-quick-schemes? Is there a relationship between this behavior and why the pharmaceutical companies and junk food companies are able to thrive in tandem on people’s desires for band-aid solutions?
I once chatted with a badminton player and coach from Malaysia who had represented Malaysia many times in the world championships. (Malaysia has a long history of being a powerhouse nation in badminton).
He had come to the US to train the US badminton team. He told me he noticed a fundamental flaw in the US badminton players: Lack of patience. Americans wanted to kill the ball early, while the Malaysians were all disciplined martial art black belts.
My life centers around developing strategies for effective and accelerated learning – because it is indeed very possible to learn skills much faster than most people are aware of – whether it is to become a better singer, healing an injury, learning a language, building a business, or whatever. And I find it fascinating that those who learn effectively and fast have a completely opposite attitude and mindset compared to those who seek quick fixes.
I get emails all the time from people who “just want a quick tip”, or people who seriously believe watching a video on Youtube is going to make them world-class singers
The unfortunate reality is that it is when we are poor we want to make money quick. And that mindset keeps us in poverty. It is the overweight person who seeks to lose weight quick. While she may succeed short term (oftentimes by simple losing water), she has never learned the real skills necessary and will therefore gain it all back. And it is the quick-tip seeker who never really learns.
It is the person who truly engages in training to develop the brain that learns. Yes it is always the brain that does the learning, that creates the healthy body, that makes you wealthy, and that makes your voice soar – although not the same part that does trigonometry calculations. You can indeed develop skills in months that the quick-tip seeker will spend years searching for.
The people who learn effectively and who therefore excel in various areas of life, are in fact the ones with an exceptional strong sense of discipline (which is a developed skill). They are the people who don’t mind delayed gratification. In fact, the prefer it over instant gratification. Practicing the art of delayed gratification could perhaps turn out to be one the greatest exercises you can engage in.
And as parents, delaying gratification maybe one of the greatest gifts we can give our children.
Does this have something to do with how we open Christmas presents? Maybe? Who knows?
Do you prefer instant gratification or do you prefer more powerful gratification even if it is delayed?