Reaction And Response.

Fight or Flight Response

The following story is ascribed to Sundar Pichai, The Global Head for Google Chrome :-

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 behaviour? 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 the ladies 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. Reactions are always instinctive whereas responses are always well thought of.

I had shared this story with some of my contacts on my mailing list and one of them, my adopted nephew Pravin has also blogged about it adding some spices which you may find interesting. Please go to the comments to see my response to him.

27 thoughts on “Reaction And Response.”

  1. I have no problems with roaches or even spiders .I can “respond” ….. lizards , scorpions & snakes are another matter ! 🙂

  2. That’s in line with my own theory that in general when we say we’re afraid of something, what we’re really afraid of is our inability to deal with it. I regret to say I would behave much like the women. I find cockroaches creepy and alarming.
    nick recently posted..Come flirt with me

    1. It is one of those motivational speeches that leaders give to illustrate something or the other and I just felt that it needed to be shared with people who are going through some difficulties in their careers and hence the forward, its blogging by Pravin and my post on it.

      1. I wonder if Ursula’s aversion to self-help books also applies to motivational stories.

        I’m with you — if I find a good story or quote worth sharing I don’t feel the need to put it into my own words. It’s the sharing that counts, not the originality.
        Cheerful Monk recently posted..Curiosity and Learning

  3. That suggests flight is perhaps the thought out response but it could very well be that fight is the properly considered response. Regardless – the moral of the story is “look before you leap” – an intelligent response to almost any circumstance. But of course when you are up to your a$$ in aligators it’s tough to remember that the object of the exercise is to drain the swamp.
    shackman recently posted..Unmentionable TED topics

    1. Let me share the background to it with you – It is one of those motivational speeches that leaders give to illustrate something or the other and I just felt that it needed to be shared with people who are going through some difficulties in their careers and hence the forward, its blogging by Pravin and my post on it.

  4. How sexist! 😉

    Now, if it had been a spider, I’d have to confess to letting down my gender, there. But I am much calmer when it comes to cockroaches and snakes than most men I know (assuming the snake is not a cobra or rattlesnake or other venomous sort – then all bets are off and we beat it with a sledgehammer together). The POINT here is a good one, but why must the hysterical reactions come so predictably from the women? And what is it about cockroaches? I don’t know a man who isn’t creeped out by them – and I know more than one who would screech and run. They don’t even bite or sting, for heaven’s sake. And they seem slightly more intelligent than June bugs (not sure what you’d call them there, but they are a little like brain-damaged roaches).

    Oh well.
    Holly Jahangiri recently posted..Short Story Contest Winner!

      1. And thank you for the article you emailed me – that was lovely. I read it during my walk, earlier, and really enjoyed it. Thank you for thinking of me – I’m glad my comment here prompted that! 😀

        As for my comment, you know I’m not really upset over it or anything. It’s more of an observation – when we accuse people of being sexist or racist or whatever, there’s often absolutely no intention behind it. Thoughtlessness, maybe. Perpetuating overgeneralizations? Probably. (All stereotypes have SOME basis in fact, even if they’re not particularly helpful or fair.) I know two people – one male, one female – who will hop on top of a table, screaming, if they see a cockroach. They are both particularly creeped out by the fact that these bugs can fly. And we’re kind to one another, because they don’t make fun of my fear of spiders – but can deal with my demons while I deal with theirs. That’s how it should be, don’t you think? 🙂
        Holly Jahangiri recently posted..Short Story Contest Winner!

        1. I am hastening to respond before I lose the trend of thought that your comments here have generated. Let us picture the same event with two other possibilities. One, the waiter becomes a waitress and two, all three actors become male. Would it have made any difference to the thrust of the story? While the first could have possibly been classified as being more sexist, what would have happened to the second scenario, say located in a truck stop diner? Would all males stand up and yell sexist? The point is that I think storytellers must be allowed to, and I am sure that you will agree being a storyteller yourself, to generalise basing their characters on possible real life people.

        2. Well, yes – okay, let’s judge as writers; arguably, he committed the worse sin of using stereotypes and cliches. 🙂

          If you reversed the roles, it would have a more attention-getting, comedic effect, wouldn’t it? The men would probably laugh, because none of them see themselves that way or believe anyone else does.

          I never much minded blonde jokes, even though I’m blonde, because I’ve led a rather insulated life among smart people and never felt I had to work inordinately hard to convince anyone of my intelligence. It would rankle, I think, if I did. Honestly, it’s only been in the last ten years or so that I’ve come to see sexism for what it is – again, I’ve been successful, careerwise, and spent my time among people who did not see me or treat me as somehow “less” because of my gender. The few who did were universally dismissed, by me and by the men around me. But the Internet has broadened my perspective on that, and on racism, and other things. I am not here to pick a fight – it’s just an observation on how casually we say, write, and do things that fit into the established order – without even thinking whether it’s fair or right to do it. What if the story had merely said “waiter” and “customer” and not specified gender at all? Would the point still be made effectively? I think it might.

          NOW, having said all that, I’m a writer – and to some extent, agree with what you say about storytellers. I’m all for using “he” as a pronoun of indeterminate gender, too (I wonder, how does it feel – when grammatically, “he” means male but also “I don’t know the person’s gender”? Women assume it implies a male-dominated world. But one could look at it differently, eh? 🙂
          Holly Jahangiri recently posted..Short Story Contest Winner!

        1. I think that Pitchai was aiming at exactly that being a leader of people and delivering a motivational speech. I do not personally know him or even of him but I don’t think that he was delivering his spiel while decrying women.

  5. did you see the film wall-e?
    he was that little lonely robot either from earth or sent to earth to clean up the planet of the mountains of nothing but garbage and STUFF left when all the humans finally used everything up.
    his only companion was a wee cockroach who was his friend.
    and you found yourself loving him and hoping nothing bad happened to him! the cock roach i mean. maybe it’s all in perspective.
    but i do get your good message! respond rather than react. 🙂
    tammy j recently january 2015

    1. No, I have not and Tammy, you are a bad influence on my son’s legacy. I personally do not even swat mosquitoes preferring to brush them away or using repellents to keep them at bay.

  6. yes it sound sexist but maybe we can think about the training of the “waiter” – his job is have a calm food place, he saw that there was hysterics and he saved the day by removing the bug from the scene…

    here in NZ they can be quite large but then again one of our local spiders is repudiated to rather large – the Avondale Spider – google it if you wish
    Cathy in NZ recently posted..WIP: Workroom

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