Is waiting for the right opportunity worth it?

Whether you are starting a new venture or looking towards the next step in your career, friends are always happy to give you great advice.  One of my favorites, is “you need to wait for the RIGHT opportunity.”  It sounds so easy, but rarely is. 

Watch this great video: Kids and the Marshmallow Test at YouTube.  The instructions were simple.  Stay in the chair and make a choice.  You can eat the marshmallow now OR wait until I come back and you will get TWO marshmallows.  The results may make you laugh, but perhaps it will make you think too…


So what’s your marshmallow? 

As we look out beyond December to a new year in 2011, there are a wealth of opportunities.  Some will present short term gains and others will promise greater benefits if we can only wait.  But, how do you know which choice is the best to choose?

Back in my grad school days, we spent lots of time learning ways to model opportunities.  There were decision trees, real option models, assessments for market volatility, cash flow projections, adjusted risk factors, models for dealing with uncertainty, game theories, and lots of complex algorithms.  All of these have their place, yet it was a simple lesson I had learned 20 years before as an undergrad in economics that has served me best. You can have the best predictive model in the world, but the minute you share your prediction, the human factor kicks in and things change.

Focus on the human factor

When it comes to picking today’s marshmallow versus two marshmallows tomorrow, be sure you take the human factor to account.  It may be the authenticity of a company’s leadership team or  the strength of belief in the underlying values that define its culture that can make a major difference in today’s opportunity or tomorrow’s promise of a bigger gain. Perceptions of customers or partners can create major shifts in future opportunities also.  Focusing on the human factor allows us to better assess whether the people behind the promise will be able to actually keep it or if we just might be better off to grab the marshmallow now.  Here are some human factor questions to keep in mind when assessing opportunity:

  1. Is there evidence or proof points to show that future gains can be delivered?
  2. Taking into account how either partners or customers will react to changes in the world around us, how might that affect both current and future value?
  3. If you seized “your marshmallow” today, could you, by using it well, end up with an even bigger gain in the future than what is promised if you wait.

To paraphrase on old saying, sometimes a marshmallow in the hand is worth two … 

and some times it is not.  Only you can make that determination.  Sometimes you will call it right, and sometimes you won’t.  Like the children in the video, you can sit and stare at your marshmallow, poke it and play with it, fidget in anticipation, or just gobble it up. But, however you make your decision and what ever tools you use, keep that human factor in mind.  It can make all the difference.

Thanks for stopping by.  Stay tuned….  

I’ll be sharing more tips to help you get ready for 2011 throughout the month of December.

Joan Koerber-Walker

About the Joan:

Koerber-Walker-056 An entrepreneur, author, speaker and corporate advisor, Joan Koerber-Walker’s journey has spanned from corporate America to entrepreneurship and non-profits, as well as into community leadership and into the halls of Washington D.C.   To learn more about how CorePurpose and the CoreAlliance can help you grow your business, you can contact her by clicking here.

CorePurpose  is a registered trademark of CorePurpose, Inc.  CoreAlliance is a  service mark of CorePurpose Inc.  All rights reserved


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