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Being Yourself: Are You a Saint or a Scorpion?

Being Yourself: Are You a Saint or a Scorpion?


    Once upon a time, on his way to the Himalayas, was a saint, a wandering ascetic. He came across a shallow river he had to cross. Just when he was about to wet his feet, he saw a scorpion helplessly treading the water, trying to come out of the river. It was almost touching the bank but not enough to gain hold of the ground. The sage saw scorpion’s struggle and decided to save it.

    He picked up the scorpion in his right palm with the intention to place it on the dry surface. No sooner did he do that than the scorpion stung and rushed off the palm in frenzy, landing in the water again. It resumed its struggle to come out of water. The sage caressed his ailing right hand with his left. His body was in pain but his mind, calm.

    Seeing that the scorpion could lose its life, the sage used left hand this time to lift the scorpion out of water. However, it panicked and stung again. Once again, it sped off the hand and fell in water resuming its struggle to come out. The saint was left with both hands singed with excruciating pain. He was not the one to give up either.

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    He tried again. This time, he cupped his hands together and lifted the scorpion in one swift movement. Before it could react, he safely dropped it on the land. The scorpion disappeared into the pebbles that lay near the bank. The sage felt elated, for, he succeeded in carrying out his resolve, for saving another life, in holding his forte. It was worth the pain he thought.

    At a distance, oblivious to the saint, a man, surprised and shocked, had watched the whole episode. He promptly approached the sage and said, “Pray, can I ask you a question please?”

    “Yes, you may.”

    “First of all, there was no need to save a scorpion. It does no good to anybody. Secondly, if must you save him out of compassion, you could have simply tried once. I’m surprised that even after it stung you so ungratefully, you persisted with your efforts. Why? How come you did not just stomp on it after it stung you?”

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    “Oh! That’s pretty simple,” the sage replied softly rubbing his stung hands against each other. “This was a scorpion, someone really low on the food chain, a creature whose nature is to sting, to panic, to harm. It is known for not exhibiting any compassion. It is supposed to be weak. Whereas, I am supposed to be a saint, a person whose job is to love everybody, to only offer unconditional love and compassion. I am supposed to be the strong one, the one higher up on the food chain. With my principles and lifestyle, my philosophy and practice, my elevated emotional and mental state, I am supposed to cleanse and transform the other individual. Right?”

    The man nodded.

    “Well then, a creature as lowly and weak as a scorpion does not change its basic nature, its traits, reactions in the presence of a holy man. Should I, the one who’s supposed to be a saint, let go off my righteous conduct, my demeanor in the presence of a scorpion? Am I now so weak to allow a measly creature change me, throw me off my principles and virtues? It did what it is designed for and I did what I’m designed for. It retained its behavior, and I, mine.”

    The man prostrated at the feet of the sage and expressed his gratitude for the profound wisdom.

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    Living in this world, disagreements are normal, in fact, natural. You will meet people ranging from scorpions to saints, thankful to thankless, from weak to wild, and so forth. If they are able to provoke you, put you off, throw you off balance, they are stronger than you. When in any conflict, if you retain your goodness, you will emerge a winner. If you stoop down to their level, treating them the way they treated you, that invariably means they have won, that means you have become like them. Rarely worth it, if you ask me.

    It is often not possible for a person to be one or the other at all times. Sometimes circumstances force you to sting like a scorpion, perhaps you may even repent later on; forgive yourself. A lot more important is to make a serious attempt to act like a saint. Whether you are a sage or a scorpion, it is a matter of choice, an independent choice. You have the option to retain your individuality. Strength comes naturally from such stance.

    So, if you are willing, write in the comments below, whether you are:

    • (a) a sage;
    • (b) a scorpion;
    • (c) or you can be either depending on the situation.

    If you wish to be a sage under all circumstances, you can. It requires mindfulness and a conscious effort. Nothing will ever bother you thereafter.

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    Peace.

    (Photo credit: Man With Devil and angel on Shoulders via Shutterstock)

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      Last Updated on April 8, 2020

      Why Assuming Positive Intent Is an Amazing Productivity Driver

      Why Assuming Positive Intent Is an Amazing Productivity Driver

      Assuming positive intent is an important contributor to quality of life.

      Most people appreciate the dividends such a mindset produces in the realm of relationships. How can relationships flourish when you don’t assume intentions that may or may not be there? And how their partner can become an easier person to be around as a result of such a shift? Less appreciated in the GTD world, however, is the productivity aspect of this “assume positive intent” perspective.

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      Most of us are guilty of letting our minds get distracted, our energy sapped, or our harmony compromised by thinking about what others woulda, coulda, shoulda.  How we got wronged by someone else.  How a friend could have been more respectful.  How a family member could have been less selfish.

      However, once we evolve to understanding the folly of this mindset, we feel freer and we become more productive professionally due to the minimization of unhelpful, distracting thoughts.

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      The leap happens when we realize two things:

      1. The self serving benefit from giving others the benefit of the doubt.
      2. The logic inherent in the assumption that others either have many things going on in their lives paving the way for misunderstandings.

      Needless to say, this mindset does not mean that we ought to not confront people that are creating havoc in our world.  There are times when we need to call someone out for inflicting harm in our personal lives or the lives of others.

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      Indra Nooyi, Chairman and CEO of Pepsi, says it best in an interview with Fortune magazine:

      My father was an absolutely wonderful human being. From ecent emailhim I learned to always assume positive intent. Whatever anybody says or does, assume positive intent. You will be amazed at how your whole approach to a person or problem becomes very different. When you assume negative intent, you’re angry. If you take away that anger and assume positive intent, you will be amazed. Your emotional quotient goes up because you are no longer almost random in your response. You don’t get defensive. You don’t scream. You are trying to understand and listen because at your basic core you are saying, ‘Maybe they are saying something to me that I’m not hearing.’ So ‘assume positive intent’ has been a huge piece of advice for me.

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      In business, sometimes in the heat of the moment, people say things. You can either misconstrue what they’re saying and assume they are trying to put you down, or you can say, ‘Wait a minute. Let me really get behind what they are saying to understand whether they’re reacting because they’re hurt, upset, confused, or they don’t understand what it is I’ve asked them to do.’ If you react from a negative perspective – because you didn’t like the way they reacted – then it just becomes two negatives fighting each other. But when you assume positive intent, I think often what happens is the other person says, ‘Hey, wait a minute, maybe I’m wrong in reacting the way I do because this person is really making an effort.

      “Assume positive intent” is definitely a top quality of life’s best practice among the people I have met so far. The reasons are obvious. It will make you feel better, your relationships will thrive and it’s an approach more greatly aligned with reality.  But less understood is how such a shift in mindset brings your professional game to a different level.

      Not only does such a shift make you more likable to your colleagues, but it also unleashes your talents further through a more focused, less distracted mind.

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      Featured photo credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via unsplash.com

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