I’m inspired to tell you a story which originates from Stephen Covey.

There was a head of a corporation who was considered a genius and a visionary. He could predict exactly in what direction the organization should go and knew exactly what needed to be done to achieve its goals. His one major flaw was the way he communicated with his executives; he simply ordered them around; “You do this, you do that, you go for this solution, and you go for that solution”.

This angered his management staff, who felt that it was a terrible way to be treated. They would berate his behavior when he left the room, and would constantly feel begrudged and de-motivated by his leadership style. However, they did what was demanded, and no more. One executive was the exception to this rule. Sure, he didn’t like being ordered about and regretted the boss’ dictatorial style. But he sat back and reflected that nevertheless, the man was a genius and a visionary. He didn’t join in and complain about how the head made him feel. Instead, he decided to not let it affect his mental state negatively and to choose not to respond negatively to the stimulus. He was subsequently considered as a rogue by his colleagues.

Nevertheless, he spent a lot of time considering how the boss’ mind worked and put himself in the boss’ shoes. The next time he was commanded to carry out a task he did so. However, he used his empathy and understanding to go beyond what was asked and make further analysis and recommendations that he felt were in line with the boss’ frame of mind. He presented his information to the head of the corporation. At the next board meeting, the head of the corporation summarised his views and turned to his executives: “You do this, you do that, you go for this solution, and you go for that solution”. All the executives stiffened and bristled. Except, that is, the rogue executive who chose to see things differently. To this man, the head of the corporation turned to, and said: “What do you think?”

Invest in your personal development; the gap between stimulus and response is where the choices lie.