Anger and the Workplace – A Tip from Ghengis Khan

Has anger ever gotten the better of you at work? I recently saw a post from an internal consultant at Microsoft on this topic. He shared a story about the great military warrior, Ghengis Khan.

As the story goes, he is out with his forces and has his favorite, most trustworthy falcon with him. While his men are resting, he decides to go into the woods to clear his mind and find some fresh water.

Now, falcons are renowned for their sure, swift striking ability and their razor-sharp vision. Khan lets his falcon loose, and after a few minutes it dives and lands at a trickle of water. Khan approaches, sees the water, and begins to fill his cup.

As he raises his cup, his falcon swoops and knocks it to the ground, spilling the water. Khan curses furiously, then picks up his cup and begins filling it again. And once again, the falcon swoops and knocks it from his hands.

Now, being strong and having won many victories, Ghengis Khan is a proud man. Fearing one of his soldiers might see this and ridicule him for letting a simple bird get the best of him, Khan draws a small sword and begins filling his cup for a third time from this slow trickle of water.

The falcon again dives and knocks the cup from his hand. Khan is prepared, and he strikes down his own bird. Infuriated that his bird is dead and his cup is still empty, he walks toward where he determines the source of the water to be. He is astonished to see a poisonous snake, laying dead in a small pool of water. Surely, if he had drunk the water contaminated by this deadly snake, he would have died.

Khan later orders that a statuette be formed in the shape of his slain falcon, and engraved with these words:

“An action done in anger is an action doomed to failure.”

The lesson here is in how you react to fear and anger.

Especially as a leader (or parent) acting in anger doesn’t make you look strong. In fact, it makes you look childish and petty or like a bully. How you respond to negative stimulus at both home and work are what will really define your legacy and have far more impact on how the world perceives you.

 

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