There is a daily exercise practiced by my son’s class teacher where she assigns a color based on the student’s work ethic and behavior for the day and sends it home to be signed off by the parents. It can be green, yellow or red.
I was driving back my 8 year old son from his weekly Kumon class when he started talking about a classmate of his who had secured very few “Greens” over the years in the different grades he was in. Hmmm…there may be a little exaggeration in there since the parents and teacher would have met and strategized to have the student back on track by now. Anyway, I asked why? He said, “Because he acts before he thinks.” That struck me as a very profound statement coming from an 8 year old. I asked him to explain. He continued, “He reacts to a situation and later thinks about what he should have not done. He should think before he does something so that he can avoid it if it’s wrong. Then, he will never have to be in yellow or red.” I exclaimed, “Precisely!” Then, I went on to tell my son that he had nailed it and asked him to practice it himself and preach to others in need of help.
What amazes me is that an 8 year old has imbibed and detailed it so eloquently. Yet, there are so many adults out there struggling with just this lesson on restraint before action. What a world of difference it would make in their lives and those they are a part of, if one just gave enough time and chance to thought before acting out. Be it a high pressure moment or not, a little thought and self restraint goes a long way in avoiding unpleasant actions and their unwelcome results.
In today’s high stress corporate world, this lesson is of much importance, whether its for someone working under pressure of tight deadlines and a heavy handed supervisor or for that supervisor itself. A little breather allows one to gather their thoughts, work through them rationally and then, act wisely. It immediately dissipates the pressure and stress created in the supervisor-subordinate relationship as well as the work process itself. It ensures a better quality outcome for all, in terms of the work product as well as the relationships that need to be nourished over time in order to keep employees from burning out.
An ounce of forethought is way better than a pound of action after the damage has been done.