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 movement of the cockroach on his shirt. At the opportune juncture, he grabbed it with his fingers and threw it out of the restaurant.
Was the cockroach responsible for the edgy behavior inside the restaurant? Of course yes. It was the cockroach and the eerie feeling that it generates that caused such commotion.
If so, then why was the waiter not disturbed? He handled it near to perfection, without any chaos.
It was not the cockroach, but the inability of the ladies to handle the disturbance caused by the cockroach that distressed them. Therefore, it is not the shouting of my boss or my wife that disturbs me, but it’s my inability to handle the turbulence caused by their shouting. It’s not the traffic jams on the road that disturbs me, but my inability to handle the annoyance caused by the traffic jam.
THE BOTTOM LINE
More than the problem, it is the uncontrolled reaction to the problem that creates chaos in our lives. The women reacted, whereas the waiter responded. Thus, do not react in life, but always respond.
Reactions are always instinctive whereas responses are always well thought of, poised and save a situation from going out of hands. Thus, to avoid cracks in relationship, to avoid taking decisions in anger or anxiety, to avoid stress or hurry, to have a calm personality — stop reacting, start responding.
The above story is based on a story narrated by Sundar Pichai, the CEO of Google at a Google I/O.