There is a social experiment usually done on preschool children. This social experiment determines with almost uncanny accuracy which five-year-old will grow up to be successful and which child won’t. The experiment is pretty easy and it doesn’t require for the children to have any special cognitive skills except for listening and understanding.

In this experiment a biscuit is put in front of a child and the child is told that they can bite into the biscuit immediately or they can wait five minutes and not touch the biscuit, and after five minutes they will be given another biscuit as a reward for waiting.  So they can either have one biscuit immediately or wait five minutes and have two biscuits. This experiment is done on children who have been fed so that hunger does not muddle up the results. The biscuit becomes a treat instead of nutrition. Feeding the children beforehand turns the eating of the biscuit into a want rather than a need. The results have shown, time and time again, that the children who wait the five minutes while the adult leaves them alone with the biscuit tend to do better in life. They have a better emotional intelligence because of their ability to delay gratification for a greater reward at the end.

Emotional intelligence more than IQ is a more accurate determiner of how people will do in life. People with a high degree of emotional intelligence are better able to postpone immediate gratification while working towards a greater reward. This, I feel, is the secret to “adulating”. If you think about it, everything worthwhile that has ever been created took time and involved the discomfort that comes with waiting.

One of the most widely published texts in the history of human literature is the bible. In this ancient text, God, who is omniscient, omnipresent and omnipotent created the world. In theory He could have snapped his fingers and created everything all at once – light, darkness, mountains, rivers, oceans, animals, people – all of this could have been created in an instant because of the omnipotent nature of God. However the bible says it took Him six days to create the world. Which indicates that even the maker’s satisfaction at creating everything, had a delay. Only on the seventh day did he rest, after noting that everything was good.

The issue I find with today’s society is that we expect success to be an event not a process. This is a feat that was not even managed by God. We are unable to wait while working towards a goal. Part of this has to do with the technological age we live in. A mere 40 years ago, sending a letter to someone took time. You had to write it and send it to the post office where it got sorted and taken to the appropriate post office where it would be dispatched to the rightful owner. This helped weave patience into the culture, but today you can write an email and have it received in as far afield as Spain within seconds of pressing send.

We expect everything to be as instantaneous as technology. However meaningful success takes time; it requires sacrifice and patience, it is almost never instant. We are surrounded by social media, that tells us that someone like Kylie Jenner is almost a billionaire at the age of 23 and we all beat ourselves up for not matching her meteoric rise to success, but the fact of the matter is even this success was not overnight. There were processes in her life that led to her selling tons of makeup to people all over the world, it goes back to years ago, where Robert Kardashian – her mother’s first husband, was a defence attorney to the OJ Simpson trial. A trial that was broadcast live to millions of homes around the world. Kylie’s mom Kris Jenner then married an Olympic athlete, Bruce Jenner, and the family was one of the first families to be followed by cameras in a reality show.

Kylie Jenner grew up in front of the camera in a reality show syndicated all over the world. Her older sisters married hip-hop stars and world-class athletes, so by the time Kylie Jenner had the idea of selling the first lip-kit, millions upon millions of people knew of her. Every stride her family made, contributed towards the crescendo of her success. So not even the instant success stories are instant.

In order for us to be successful, we cannot escape the drudgery of the process, the waiting, the self-sacrifice, the working towards a goal that is still out of sight. Instant gratification is short-lived. The kind of behaviour that builds legacies is the one that requires plenty of sacrifice and plenty of hard work.




Read one writer’s opinion on what it means to truly be happy here.

Tell us: Do you agree that in order to achieve success you need to be patient? Why or why not?