A simulation of the original design of the GPS...Image via Wikipedia
For the very first time, my new boss (of several years already) has sent an inspirational story in the mail. Now this story has quite a strong punchline, a lesson, and for that alone, it is worthy of being posted in my Leading Leads site.

I enjoyed this, and I'm sure I will do my best to apply the lesson it offers.

Hope you do, too.

Read on...

An intelligent person responds; a fool reacts

by Deepak Shinde

Level 5 Leadership: The Triumph of Humility and Fierce Resolve (HBR OnPoint Enhanced Edition)Three women met. Yeah you can guess??? Lots of discussion, exchange of news and views, loads of information. One particular part of their discussion caught my attention. One of the ladies, with a lot of interest, was sharing some interesting facts about cockroach. With a lot of amazement she was telling how a cockroach can run three miles in an hour and can change directions 25 times in a second. A cockroach could live a long time, perhaps a week, without its head. There was nonstop excitement in her voice as she continued saying, "A cockroach has amazing adaptability. It can survive in any climate, in any house condition, inside any crack, etc. Its antennae, which rivals NASA's Global Positioning System, helps it to locate other cockroaches with state-of-the-art precision. Cockroaches could be used to place surveillance devices in military installations. In fact, a cockroach can survive even an attack of atomic explosion."

Humble Pie...redefining the application of Humility.: A corporate executive's hard lesson in learning that humility is the most important tool in leading and managing people.Suddenly, a cockroach flew from nowhere and sat on her. I wondered if this was the cockroach's response to all the glory that was spoken about it! she started screaming out of fear. With panic-stricken face and trembling voice, she started doing stationary jumping, with both her hands desperately trying to get rid of the cockroach. Her reaction was contagious, as everyone in her group got crank to what was happening. The lady finally managed to push the cockroach on to another lady in the group. Now, it was the turn of the other lady to continue the drama. The waiter rushed forward to their rescue. In the relay of throwing, the cockroach next fell upon the waiter. The waiter stood firm, composed himself and observed its movement on his shirt. When he was confident enough, he grabbed it with his fingers and threw it out.

Open Leadership: How Social Technology Can Transform the Way You Lead (J-B Warren Bennis Series)Sipping my coffee and watching the amusement, the antenna of my mind picked up a few thoughts a started wondering, 'Was the cockroach responsible for their histrionic behaviour? If so, then, why was the waiter not perturbed? He handled it to near perfection, without any chaos. it is not the cockroach, but the inability of the ladies to handle the disturbance cuased by the cockroach that disturbed the ladies."

I realised, 'Even in my case then, it is not the shouting of my father or my boss that disturbs me, but it is my inability to handle the disturbance caused by their shouting that disturbs me. it is not the traffic jams on the road that disturbs me. in all, it is not something that disturbs me, but it is my inability to handle the disturbance caused by that something that disturbs me. More than the problem, it is my reaction to the problem, which hurts me more."

A natural question popped up in my mind, "Then, how do I outgrow this limitation?"

Transparency: Creating a Culture of Candor (Your Coach in a Box)I understood. "I should not react. I should always respond. The women reacted, whereas the waiter responded. Reactions are instinctive, whereas responses are intellectual. Betwen the stimuli (what happens to me) and the response (what happens through me) if there is no gap, it creates reaction. But, between the stimuli and the response, if I use the gap to think and contemplate, then I can respond thoughtfully. An intelligent person responsed; a fool reacts.

What's your experience? Have you anything to say about this?

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