A Stanford University psychological experiment studied small children and their behavior when sitting alone in front of light and fluffy marshmallows and being asked not to eat them while researchers left the room. In the years after the experiment, follow-up was done to track the personalities of the children studied. It was found that the children who were able to wait fifteen minutes for the researchers to return before eating the marshmallows were thinner, smarter, and higher-achieving adults than those children who did not wait to eat the tasty treats. The ability to wait longer for preferred rewards is known as delayed gratification.
Scientists describe delayed gratification as a means to manage one’s needs to be satisfied at a moment in time. It is usually done to achieve a bigger reward in the future. Scientists have a less formal definition of delayed gratification known as GRIT.
GRIT: Courage and resolve; strength of character.
On Monday, January 18, we celebrate a person who personified GRIT long before this experiment, or this description, became popular. Dr. Martin Luther King once said that he dreamed of a day when his four children “will live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”
His steadfast belief in meaningful change through peace and passion is a testament to his grit, regardless of the circumstances. His life and his death served as a pivot-point for cultural change that could only be accomplished through courage, resolve, and strength of character. The qualities that he possessed played a big role in the progress of making his dream a closer reality. Today, we are reminded of the words he spoke and the difference he made in moving us forward and celebrate his grit and preparation.
Throughout the third term, we will celebrate the values of grit and preparation. While we still have a long way to go, we pause to honor someone who lived and died for a greater cause. It is my hope that we can grow in our own children the deeply rooted commitment to continually make the world a better place for the sake of others. In Wylie ISD, we work to put others before ourselves with grit, determination, faith, and patience. We value the role that our community plays in these efforts, and we look forward to growing together, the Wylie Way!