The Empty Boat Syndrome
Here’s one of my favorite motivational stories:
Two friends met at the lake, where they untied their rowboat and pushed away from the dock, slowly rowing into the morning mist.
They were chatting about life and relaxing, when another row boat appeared suddenly out of the fog. The man shouted a warning, but it was too late and the boats bumped. The man stood up and yelled at the other boater, his face purple with anger. But there was nothing he could do as the other boater shouted an apology and rowed away into the fog.
“Can you believe that guy? Look what he did to my boat!” he raged to his friend, pointing to a small scratch on the gunwale. His friend commiserated until the man calmed down and began to relax again.
At that moment, another boat appeared out of the fog and bumped into them gently. The man leapt up, but he realized no one was in the boat. It was a drifting derelict. He pushed the other boat away with his oar and they rowed on. The friend looked at him with an amused expression. “What?” said the man.
“I notice that when the first boat hit us, you were very angry. But when the second boat hit us, you were calm.”
“So?” said the man. “The other boater should have known better.”
“So you were angry at the other boater’s lack of care, not at the situation itself, since in both cases, your boat was hit.”
“I guess that’s true,” said the man, thinking. And as they drifted, he wondered how many of his problems were real, or just his reaction to other people involved?
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