Merge's Blog

Tag Archives: react vs respond

When things are out of control, are they really?

controlSome things are entirely and wholly out of my control.  Severe weather, for example.  I cannot effect change in the weather.  Whether it’s a sweltering heatwave, a blinding snowstorm, or a stormy hurricane, I can’t make the weather calamity go away, no matter how hard I try.

But, on the other hand, there are plenty of things I can do to control how I react and respond to harsh weather.  I can seek out a cooler environment (inside an air-conditioned shopping mall for example), delay my road-trip to future date to avoid wintry driving conditions, or gather essential documents and supplies as I evacuate to safer ground.  Instead of complaining about the effects of severe weather, I can choose to take thoughtful actions to avoid, or at least, mitigate the damage.

Just because we can’t control the situation doesn’t mean we can’t influence the outcome

There are a myriad of events in our lives that are outside our sphere of control.  But that doesn’t mean that we can’t influence the final outcome.  Continue reading

An ageless folktale about dealing with adversity

hot water as a metaphor for adversityEvery so often, a conversation with an elderly relative reminds me of a story from Indian folklore that I heard when I was a child.  Recently, that happened again, this time on the topic of how one reacts or responds to adversity.  The story tells of a young person who was complaining to his grandmother about the challenges he was facing in his school and job – difficult assignments, tough professors, a demanding boss, not enough time to relax, and always, a seeming shortage of funds.

Her response: to place three pots of water on the stove

The grandmother responded by placing three pots of water on the stove.  When the water in each was boiling, she placed two potatoes in the first pot, two eggs in the second, and a scoop of tea leaves in the third.  About twenty minutes later, she pulled out the potatoes and eggs and placed them on a plate, and strained the water out of the tea leaves into a cup, and placed them all in front of the young man.  Puzzled, he looked up at her. Continue reading

Maintaining your composure – do you react or respond?

I have blogged many times about how important maintaining your composure is for you as a leader, even in trying situations. Doing math, managing your actions, and identifying main triggers have been suggestions I’ve made in the past. Lately, this issue came to the top of my mind again.

SpiderDuring a recent trip to Hong Kong, I found myself seated at a small table in a tiny streetside outdoor café one afternoon. There were only four other tables, equally small, all of them occupied. Suddenly, the two well-dressed women at one of the corner tables screamed loudly almost in unison, and stood up, shouting rapidly, nearly knocking over the table in their haste to get away. Even though I don’t understand Cantonese, it didn’t take me long to figure out what happened. A giant furry brown-and-white spider, still suspended by a remnant of a cobweb, had dropped down from the tree above, and come to a stop almost in front of the faces of the two women. Startled and obviously distressed, they almost knocked over their coffees and desserts in their rush to get as far as possible from the monster arachnid. It was mere seconds later that the café owner stepped from behind his counter, walked over to the table, gently lifted the offending spider and placed it on a bush a few feet away. The two women, still rapidly speaking in Cantonese, continued to be unnerved and agitated, presumably by the spider’s size.

As I watched the drama unfold over a matter of minutes, it occurred to me that it wasn’t the spider that caused the turmoil. Continue reading