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What is the most powerful mantra for success?

Last updated on: April 25, 2013 10:34 IST

What is the most powerful mantra for success?

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Success in life is determined not only by intelligence or by the grades you get or the college you go to. What really matters is your self control in your life, writes Prakash Iyer, Executive Coach and MD, Kimberly-Clark Lever and author of the book The Habit of Winning

All set to enter university? You must be excited -- and tense too.

And I am sure several questions must be swimming in your head: which course to study, which college to join, and of course that big fat question -- Will I get admission in the college of my dreams.

Here's a word of advice to calm your nerves. It's not the reputation of the college that matters. It's what you learn there and what you do with the education that really counts!

So what does it to take to become successful in life? Is it intelligence? The college you go to? Or the marks you get?

A research study done in Stanford University some years ago came up with an interesting answer.

What really matters, it seems is self-control. The ability to hold out, to resist temptation could hold the key to how successful you are in life.

Learning to exercise self-control and tame your impulses could not only help you make the most of college life but also help you in the rest of your career.

To truly understand the power of self-control, you must hear about the Marshmallow test.

The Marshmallow test refers to an experiment conducted by a psychologist named Walter Mischel at Stanford University in 1972.

He took a group of nursery school children into a classroom. A teacher then gave each child a marshmallow (a soft sugar-coated candy) and made them an offer.

She said they could either eat the marshmallow right away, or they could wait fifteen minutes while she went out to finish some work. And on her return, if the kids had waited, they would get a second marshmallow.

Sounds simple, no? When the teacher returned, she found some kids had eaten their marshmallow, while others had waited.

Mischel then tracked these nursery school kids through their college life and careers, and discovered that their ability as little kids to be patient  had a huge impact on their lives.

As they grew up, the kids that resisted eating the first marshmallow and waited for the second one, got better grades, found better jobs, enjoyed good health -- and had better relationships!

Think about it. Make it a habit to wait for the second candy, the bigger prize.

College life spells freedom for many young kids.

They think they can now have fun -- and not worry about attending class, or studying. They can't resist the temptation of eating that first marshmallow!

The new-found freedom often means the beginning of a new vice or a seemingly small bad habit. It seems fun -- and we don't realise that we may be compromising our long-term interests.

In life, you will often find distractions that seem to provide instant gratification -- but take you away from your long-term goals.

Don't succumb to those temptations. We all face the marshmallow test everyday. And alas, we often cannot resist the temptation.

Waiting for that second marshmallow is also about believing in a better future and being optimistic.

You've got to keep that faith. If you don't believe in yourself, if you don't think good things will happen to you, you tend to grab the first marshmallow that comes along.

When you allow cynicism to creep in, you don't give success a chance to come knocking on your door.

Control that urge. Self-control has its rewards! Wait -- and you'll see it!

Illustration: Uttam Ghosh





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