The Storm: A Leadership Booklet and Blog #11

THE STORM Chapter 11: The Marshmallow Test

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started.” – Mark Twain


Why This Matters: Chapter 11, “The Marshmallow Test,” introduces the concept of Kaizen, building anticipation for its revelation. Granddaddy’s insights, drawn from historical lessons and psychological experiments, emphasize the importance of delayed gratification, goals, and control over one’s actions. The chapter challenges readers to reflect on the connection between patience, goal-setting, and success, setting the stage for the deeper exploration of Kaizen in the following chapter.

Essential Question for Readers: “How does the concept of delayed gratification, as explored through the marshmallow test, relate to the principles of Kaizen, and how can understanding these concepts guide us in setting goals, exercising patience, and gaining control over our actions for long-term success?”


Chapter Summary

In Chapter 11 of “Do the Work!” titled “The Marshmallow Test,” Dakota engages in a conversation with his Granddaddy about Kaizen, a concept he’s curious to understand. Granddaddy begins by reflecting on the lessons learned during World War II and how those experiences shaped his generation. He emphasizes the importance of seeking knowledge and shares insights gained from historical figures.

Granddaddy then delves into the concept of Kaizen, which he learned indirectly from General Douglas MacArthur, a key figure in the post-war reconstruction of Japan. He connects Kaizen to the marshmallow test, a psychological experiment measuring delayed gratification in children. The test revealed that those who could wait for a greater reward tended to be more successful in later life.

Granddaddy explains that Kaizen originated in Japan through the collaboration between MacArthur and Dr. William Edwards Deming. While the concept existed before, it found application in post-war Japan’s reconstruction efforts. Granddaddy, building anticipation, suggests that understanding the marshmallow test first will enhance comprehension of Kaizen.

As Dakota eagerly awaits the explanation of Kaizen, Granddaddy emphasizes the importance of goals and control over one’s actions. He underscores the applicability of Kaizen principles in Dakota’s life, setting the stage for the revelation of the Kaizen secret in the subsequent chapter.



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Reflection/Journaling: Reflect on the concept of delayed gratification introduced through the marshmallow test. Consider instances in your life where patience and delayed gratification have played a role in achieving more significant rewards. How does this relate to your goals and the principles of control over your actions? What insights can you draw from the psychological experiment?


  1. Identify a specific goal in your life that requires patience and delayed gratification. It could be related to education, career, personal development, or any area of your life.
  2. Reflect on areas where you struggle with impulse control or immediate gratification. Set a goal to develop strategies to exercise better control over your actions, aligning them with your long-term objectives.
  3. Consider how setting short-term goals can contribute to your larger aspirations. Set a specific short-term goal that aligns with your broader objectives, emphasizing the principle of incremental progress.

Next Steps:

  1. Break down your identified goal into smaller, manageable steps. Create a timeline for achieving each step, emphasizing the importance of gradual progress.
  2. Identify triggers or situations where you tend to give in to immediate gratification. Develop alternative strategies to cope with these situations and redirect your actions toward your long-term goals.
  3. Incorporate the principles of Kaizen into your daily routine. Start with small, incremental changes in your habits or behaviors that align with your goals. Monitor your progress and adjust your approach as needed.

By reflecting on the marshmallow test, setting relevant goals, and taking incremental steps, you can better understand the principles of delayed gratification and control over your actions. These insights will prepare you for the deeper exploration of Kaizen in the next chapter.

Dan Blanchard is a bestselling and award-winning author, speaker, educator, TV Host, and philanthropist.

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