Philadelphia, PA (PRWEB) September 09, 2013
Renowned professional poker player, author and organizational coach Annie Duke provided her analysis of Novak Djokovic’s amazing performance during marathon tennis matches in the U.S. Open, and the major contributor to his success: his amazing ability to delay gratification. Duke writes:
“Djokovic’s diet is legendary. A few years ago, a distant #3 in the world, Djokovic adopted a gluten-free, caffeine-free, processed sugar-free diet that he credits with his rise to the #1 ranking. Is the diet Spartan? For sure. But it seems to be paying off. There is no doubting that Djokovic is the best conditioned athlete in tennis, as evidenced by his ability to outlast in these marathon matches. This kind of self-control is unusual, even among elite athletes who are generally better at trading off the present in favor of the future.”
Duke cites a famous example of a research study on delayed gratification in four year-olds:
“The most well-known research in the area is the famous ‘marshmallow experiment’ originally conducted by Walter Mischel at Stanford. The simple question asked of four-year-olds in the ground-breaking work was ‘can you resist eating a marshmallow sitting in front of you for 15 minutes if you know that by waiting you will get you two marshmallows?’ Turns out, not surprisingly, four year olds are pretty bad at delayed gratification with 70% of them failing to wait. In fact, the average wait time is less than three of the 15 minutes required to get the second marshmallow.
“But 30% of the children do wait and get the second marshmallow. And it turns out that ability to wait is correlated with lots of good stuff happening as the kids grow up, like lower BMI, better scores on standardized tests and more confidence. Self-control is a predictor of success.
“One would have to assume Djokovic would have been the star of the studies, easily waiting the 15 minutes for the second marshmallow, then choosing to eat kale instead to avoid consuming the processed sugar in the fluffy treat.”
She continues with an analysis of whether the ability to delay gratification is an inherent trait, or something we can be trained to do.
“So is the ability to delay gratification something you’re born with and just part of your temperament? Or can it be trained up? Research does show that there is a correlation between the inability to delay gratification as a child and that inability as an adult, but that relationship is much less stable than, for example, intelligence between childhood and adulthood. That suggests that self-control can be trained up.
“In fact, some new research out of the University of Rochester, suggests that self-control and delay of gratification can be influenced by environmental factors. The study shows that kids who have reliable, predictable interactions with adults before being subjected to the marshmallow test were able to delay gratification on average four times longer than kids who did not have those interactions. That is an increase of an average wait time of three minutes to twelve minutes.”
Overall, Duke concludes that, while it is difficult to train yourself to delay gratification, it is indeed an effective technique, and one that we can all learn with a bit of practice. “That’s a glimmer of hope for those of us not born with the mental fortitude of a Djokovic. We may not all be trying to be the world’s #1 ranked tennis player, but the more we nurture our own ability to delay gratification, the happier and more successful we are likely to be.”
About Annie Duke
Annie Duke has a strong track record of success in the world of poker. She first burst onto the scene at the 1994 World Series of Poker, where she cashed in three events included making the final three tables of the Main Event. A decade later, she won her first WSOP bracelet and in 2010 became the NBC National Heads-Up Champion bested runner-up, Erik Seidel. Duke has appeared on Celebrity Apprentice and tutored Hollywood A-listers including Ben Affleck and Matt Damon on the finer points of the game of poker. She is also the author of three books on poker: Decide to Play Great Poker; Heads-Up Tournament Poker; and The Middle Zone. She also authored an autobiography How I Raised, Folded, Bluffed, Flirted, Cursed, and Won Millions at the World Series of Poker.
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