Delayed Gratification

Delayed Gratification

To reach your own ultimate performance you must commit
to long-term mastery versus short-term success.

empty road

The road to mastery is paved with methodical and structured discipline. Mastery, contrary to popular belief, is not Michael Jordan being a superstar from the word go. It’s not Michelangelo painting the Sistine Chapel in grade school. It’s not Danny Way jumping the Great Wall of China by the age of seven.

Mastery is the result of Ericsson’s ten thousand hours. Toiling away day after day in obscurity for the sole (soul) purpose of living your purpose, and thereby potentially bringing your greatness to the world.

We all have unique gifts and talents; yet very few have the persistence, perseverance, and pure grit to develop those gifts and talents to the fullest.

What exactly is grit; and is it important? Learn more about grit here.

“Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented
individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work.”
~ Stephen King

person painting on a desk

Stanford psychologist Walter Mischel conducted a pretty straightforward study in delayed gratification. He gave four-year-olds a marshmallow and two options:

  • They could eat the marshmallow right now; or
  • If they waited for him to return from running a brief errand, they could have two.

He then promptly left.

Most of the kids, as you might guess, could not wait. In fact, the majority of them ate the marshmallow the moment Mischel left the room!

Yet a very, very few could resist the temptation to eat it now; and over the long-term study this turned out to be a very big deal.

Now you may have a tendency to think, “Well James, that’s just kids.”

Not so fast.

When interviewed fourteen years later, the kids who could wait were more self-reliant, self-confident, and hard-working. No exception.

Furthermore, they were able to handle stress and life tests and challenges better than those who couldn’t wait.

Are you a marshmallow now or later person?

You may recall Philip Zimbardo, past president of the American Psychological Association, whose research we discussed regarding what he calls “present hedonists” versus a “future orientation.”

Pleasing activities of the moment don’t
always lead to pleasing results.

man playing violin with blindfold

In my book Harmonic Wealth I discussed two types of people. Those attached to pleasing activities; and those committed to pleasing results.

Obviously, those committed to pleasing results are the future-orientated individuals of Zimbardo’s research; as well as the pleasure delaying marshmallow eaters of Mischel.

Well, you know, I’m a pleasure delayer.
~ Vanilla Sky

hands clapping

But the concept of pleasure delaying is somewhat deceiving.

Research proves that those who reach their ultimate productivity and potential are always doing something that they love.

You can be doing something that’s not so pleasing at the moment and yet still experience the enjoyment of moving yourself toward your own Magnificent Obsession.

The pleasure is the activity itself, and more importantly the true enjoyment. Even in the so-called delay. Not in an extrinsic sense possibly (as in “I want to make this amount of money”), but in the all-important intrinsic sense (as in “I am happy, fulfilled and doing what I love doing”), that we truly live for. Ultimately every single thing we do is for intrinsic rewards at the end of the day.

Regardless of external results, 
the master makes the doing of his work his greatest reward.

close up of man thumbs up

Let’s face it, life is often tough. This is not testosterone, by the way, this is truth.

External results often come slow, if and when they come at all. There are few guarantees in life, and certainly not in extrinsic results. But there is a guaranteed way to live a fully engaged, inspired, and completely fulfilled life.

The guarantee of a full life comes when you choose your One Thing and devote every ounce of your energy and attention to it.

Nothing I or anyone can say, will make life forever and always easy. Yet life is not meant to be easy, it’s meant to be meaningful. Please let that sink in. Digest it fully and prepare yourself for a meaningful and inspired life.

Once again, you must commit to long-term mastery versus short-term success.

We hear a lot about being “positive.” But being powerful and positive is not painting a smiley face over your pain like so many often think and attempt to do.

james arthur ray quote

Covering a spike in chocolate will never turn it into candy. But there is a purpose and a perfect place and plan in this universe for a spike. Do you follow the metaphor?

The fact is that when you’re going after your next Kilimanjaro you can’t expect it to not be tough going sometimes, and you certainly can’t expect to leap to the peak in one giant step.

You’re going to be climbing for quite some time.

And you’re going to be out of breathing.

You’re going to be exhausted;

And you’re going to consider quitting.


Consider quitting, yes that’s human.

Just don’t succumb.

When the Going Gets Tough
It Means You’re Growing.

man climbing-on gray concrete peak at daytime

Is your life a little tough right now? Believe me, I know tough. Tough is… well tough!

Really tough.

It’s hard and sharp and cold like a spike. I’ll never minimize that. Yet tough means you’re potentially doing something great!

One of the challenges I find with my Ultimate Human Performance Coaching clients is the idea of getting maximum returns for minimum investment. “James, give me the magic pill or secret sauce that will automatically catapult me to the arena of super successful; and life will be problem and pain-free.”

When has that one ever worked for you?

Reaching your full potential takes commitment and time and yes… confronting difficulties, tough times, and challenges. So does living into your own personal UHP.

I’ve invested over thirty years in studying psychology, science, and the habits of Ultimate Human Performance. I’ve been blessed to mentor and coach multiple mega-millionaires, entrepreneurs, and share the stage with billionaires; and what I can promise you is that they all have challenges and problems in their life.

No exception.

In fact, the bigger the life and the business, the bigger the challenges become. Think about it, who do you think has more tax issues, employee concerns, and overall business challenges: you or Richard Branson? You or Martha Stewart?

Easy answer.

The difference?

Super producers have a superhuman capacity to define things in an empowering way.

Two fundamental keys to getting through the tough times and delayed external results are:

  • Utilization; and
  • Perspective.

They both work in concert.

First, high productivity learns to resist nothing and utilize everything. Read that again.

One of the fundamental characteristics of high performance is the commitment to find a way to make everything work to your advantage. Everything.

Most importantly the tough things.

It doesn’t mean you have to like them. Sometimes you truly want. Yet the questions of UHP are: How can you learn from them, grow from them, and utilize them to move forward and create a better life?

This is the ultimate in utilization and true alchemy. Get creative, get mentally and emotionally strong. Get busy.

Next, leading astronomers tell us that the universe is expanding more rapidly now than ever before in our recorded history. This means the universe is driven by expansion and growth; and so must you be.

Think about this one. You create your own tough times by setting a goal or intention. Please read that again.

Let it sink in.

You always have, and you always will create your own challenges.

James Arthur Ray

The fact that you set a new direction for your life automatically creates a disparity between where you are, and where and how you want to be. Right?

We create our own obstacles by choosing to grow and improve. If you chose no direction or improvement, there would be no disparity; and therefore no obstacles. Are you with me?

Now, this is a game-changer when you get it.

We’ve been taught to “think positive.” But true positive thinking is not expecting the best. That’s called illusion.

True positive thinking is accepting that what is happening is the best for our further development, advancement, and growth. As we discussed, growth and expansion put you in direct alignment with the universal objective and plan.

When you develop the mental muscle to hold your vision during a Tsunami, then you have true mental muscle. When you use your own monster storm to become better, stronger, faster, wiser, then you’re fully alive!

And that my friend is real positive thinking.

Conversely, “negative thinking” is any thought, feeling, or action that is resistant to growth. In other words, resistant to the universal plan.

Therefore, when you’re resistant to the things that cause growth you’re being “negative.” Put that one in your morning coffee and stir.

Armed with this powerful perspective, we embrace what life throws at us; and we find a way to use it to expand forward in our own awakening and development.

The delay is not so difficult any longer.

The gratification comes in the growth; surfing the Tsunami; and climbing our Kilimanjaro.

The marshmallow can wait.

Perspective and utilization help you bring your greatness to the world. Not in spite of your challenges… but as a direct result of them!

More to come, and the journey continues…

Be a Leader. Live Your Purpose, and Take Your Power Back!

james arthur ray



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