The Case of the Delayed Gratification

Title: The Case of the Delayed Gratification – Toastmasters Project 4
Date: 30 January 2008 07:53
Category: Toastmasters
Tags: toastmasters, speech

The Case of the Delayed Gratification
Toastmasters Project 4

Anyone can tell me what a “delayed gratification” is?

Do you remember back in the days when you were toilet-training? [pause] I sure don’t. But of course you know the feeling when you were having a long meeting and suddenly there was another urgent business that you need to do in the toilet? Well, let me tell you that those experiences are mini-examples of “delayed gratification”. So in this talk I would like to say two things about delayed gratification. First why it is important and next is my personal experience of delayed gratification.

Number 1 – The importance of delayed gratification.
There was a group of professors who experimented on young children — apparently they were against animal testing and resorted to humans instead. They put each child into an isolated room with a table and a chair and then put a candy bar on the table. Before leaving the room, the experimenter told the child that if they don’t eat the candy for the next half hour then they will get another one — thus a total of two candy bars. Some of the children naturally just took the candy and eat it after being left alone. Whereas others obeyed and received another candy. At some twenty years later the professors re-gathered the now young adults and notice that those children who patiently waited for another candy seems to be more successful later in their studies and landed better jobs than the ones who cannot delay their gratification.

I suppose that most of us have taken control of our urges with candy. But the lesson learned from the experiment is also transferrable to other parts of life. The toilet-business is a way to re-experience the feelings of those children had with candies. Another is with lunch — I’m sure you’ve experienced those lunchtime production issues that also creates a grumbling stomach issue? Not to mention that your dedicated colleagues tapaw lunch at their desks and you sense that wonderful smell of cooked food, but tied up to your desks due to the production issue? How does it feel when finally you cleared out the issue and finally got your lunch? That’s delayed gratification. A mini everyday run-of-the-mill delayed gratification. Coincidentally my last experience of obtaining a new laptop feels exactly the same way as the toilet-business, the main difference that it was over a period of several months.

Number 2 – My Personal Experience
The story goes that my old trusty laptop started to decay and thus I needed a new one. Then I decided that I want one of those cute computers that Steve Jobs makes, part of it because I wouldn’t afford it if not for the Singapore salary. It was also my self-reward for getting a job here. Since the old lady was still workable and usable, I decided to wait before I bought my new mistress from Steve — at that time it was coming to spring in the U.S. and he was about to release a new operating system software, which comes free with the computer. [pause] Unfortunately, His Steve-ness cared more about selling his new phone and doesn’t want to sell me a laptop and delayed the release. So I waited.. and waited… the wait became more aggravating since the old lady’s screen started to crack and the CD-ROM drive only works when the laptop is tilted in certain angles [demonstrate]. Not to mention that ABC News podcast look like an 80’s breakdance-rap combo show when played full-screen [demonstrate]. It was really a delayed gratification experience for me. [pause]

Then I started stalking a lot of Mac sites, seeking for news when will it be released, and even downloading a hacked Mac OS to test it out, just to find out that my old lady doesn’t have the oomph to run it under virtualization. When Steve finally release the new software and I finally bought the new laptop it was really a gratifying reward. I really love the virtual desktop feature and that cute spacey-themed backup software, which I would need to pay US$ 129 if I didn’t waited. [long pause]

So, what does this means for us? The concept of delayed gratification is abundant in our society. The time value of money, interest rates, bonuses, are few examples. So are simply being patient and focusing on the big picture instead of fighting fires all day and forgetting to build your future. All in all we should be patient, value the future, and of course value it with the proper discount rate that’s comfortable for your own personality and priorities.

Thank you


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