Saturday, August 27, 2005

EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE: Thinking Outside the Box


From the mailbox, a great story that encourages us to stay calm, think things through, and find great solutions to complex problems.

Thanks to Shlomo, in Israel, for this one:

Many years ago in a small Indian village, a farmer had the misfortune of owing a large sum of money to the village moneylender. The moneylender, who was old, ugly, and hated by all, fancied the farmer's beautiful daughter, so he proposed a bargain. He would forego the farmer's debt if he could marry his beautiful daughter.

Both the farmer and his daughter were horrified by the proposal, so the cunning moneylender suggested that they let providence decide the matter.

They were standing on a pebble-strewn path, so the moneylender told them that he would put one black pebble and one white pebble into his empty moneybag. Then the daughter could pick one of the pebbles from the bag.

1) If she picked the black pebble, she would have to become his wife and her father's debt would be forgiven.

2) If she picked the white pebble, she wouldn't have to marry him and her father's debt would still be forgiven.

If she refused to play this game, the moneylender would throw her father in jail. The two agreed, so the moneylender bent over and picked up two pebbles. As he did so, the sharp-eyed girl noticed that he had picked up two black pebbles and put them in the bag.

Uh oh. We really need to think hard when the deck is stacked against us! What would you do if you were the girl? It would seem that there were only three possiblities:

1. She could refuse to take a pebble, in which case her father would be thrown in jail.

2. She could show that there were two black pebbles in the bag and expose the moneylender as a cheat, in which case her father would still be going to jail.

3. She could go ahead and take one of the black marbles, sacrificing her happiness to keep her father from debt and imprisonment.

Thinking about this "logically," there isn't much chance for her. We need some lateral thinking! Being a clever girl who could think outside the box, here's what she did:

She reached into the money bag and took one of the pebbles, then, as if by accident, let it fall from her hand, getting lost immediately among the thousans of pebbles at their feet.

"Oh, how clumsy of me," she said. "But that's okay. We can tell which one I took by looking in the bag and seeing which color is left!"

Now the moneylender's in a tight spot. The remaining pebble is black, of course, which means that "logically" she chose a white one -- unless he admits to treachery, which he can't afford to do.

THE MORAL OF THE STORY: Most complex problems do have a solution. It is only that we don't attempt to think and come up with creative solutions.

EQ NOTES: If the girl had let her emotions get the best of her, she would've been worrying about the outcome instead of paying attention to what was going on. She wouldn't have noticed the moneylender was picking up two black pebbles. It all depends on staying calm in crisis so you can think clearly.

She also had to know something of human nature -- to know that the moneylender would not want to be exposed as a cheat.

The girl was able to keep her head clear in a difficult time. That's good EQ!

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