The importance of delaying gratification is often overlooked when we talk about entrepreneurship.
We now live in a world where reward mechanisms have been embedded into regular and repeated tasks that deliver a predictable outcome.
We get grades in school for our learning efforts and we are constantly checked for the expected progress along the way. We get a monthly paycheck for the work we perform and often times we are allocated a monthly quota of achievements and tasks to perform.
The way society acknowledges success is by measuring our ability to fit into this action/reward mechanism that evolved along with humanity.
And all this is happening because of our illusion of safety that comes from regular, predictive behavior.
But this linear causality is something we only really find in man made processes, such as schools or jobs.
However, the biggest achievements of humanity in general and innovation in entrepreneurship in particular, come from a different way of approaching life that relies on the non-linear reality of the world around us.
Artists, entrepreneurs and often times, researchers, spend a lot of time working without getting that immediate reward for their effort.
They are unable to give a socially accepted answer to the question: how was your day at the office?
That’s why it’s so hard to be motivated to work on such long term goals if you are not comfortable with delaying gratification.
But knowing that this is the best way to create amazing results, I sometimes wonder why so few people embark on this journey. Or why the majority of the people engaged in typical action/reward activities perceive this pursuit as failure.
I’ll end this with a quote that I really enjoy:
“It’s tough to deal with the social consequences of the appearance of continuous failure. We are social animals; hell is other people.”
Nassim Nicholas Taleb. “The Black Swan.”