Michael Kwan

I write stuff

Respond, Don’t React

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The below is a commonly shared story by Sundar Pichai, before he became Google CEO. I’ve read this before but wanna repost it here, both for my own reference & learning, as well as for anyone else who might benefit from this. It’s very practical, and when you take a step back to look at the situation you’re in and calmly respond to it, you’ll realise you won’t be at the mercy of your emotions but instead respond with your critical mind. Not only will you be happier generally, but you’ll have better control over your situation, and that would generally help your cause.

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The cockroach theory for self development

At a restaurant, a cockroach suddenly flew from somewhere and sat on a lady.

She started screaming out of fear.

With a panic-stricken face and trembling voice, she started jumping, with both her hands desperately trying to get rid of the cockroach.

Her reaction was contagious, as everyone in her group also got panicky.

The lady finally managed to push the cockroach away but …it landed on another lady in the group.

Now, it was the turn of the other lady in the group 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 the behavior of the cockroach on his shirt.

When he was confident enough, he grabbed it with his fingers and threw it out of the restaurant.

Sipping my coffee and watching the amusement, the antenna of my mind picked up a few thoughts and started wondering, was the cockroach responsible for their histrionic behavior?

If so, then why was the waiter not disturbed?

He handled it near to perfection, without any chaos.

It is not the cockroach, but the inability of those people to handle the disturbance caused by the cockroach, that disturbed the ladies.

I realized that, it is not the shouting of my father or my boss or my wife that disturbs me, but it’s my inability to handle the disturbances caused by their shouting that disturbs me.

It’s not the traffic jams on the road that disturbs me, but my inability to handle the disturbance caused by the traffic jam that disturbs me.

More than the problem, it’s my reaction to the problem that creates chaos in my life.

Lessons learnt from the story:

I understood, I should not react in life.
I should always respond.

The women reacted, whereas the waiter responded.

Respond, don’t react.


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Michael

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