Thermometer or Thermostat?

July 21, 2023

I’ve thought about this quite a bit recently in relationship to our thoughts, reactions. I recently completed a 7 day devotional with Vladimir Savchuk titled: “7 Ways to Renew Your Mind” with a group of friends. On Day 4, this was the opening for the study— “We possess what we confess.……When God saw the world in darkness, void, and without form – He did not use His words to describe the situation. Instead He used the power of His word to change the situation. Don’t use your mouth as a thermometer, which only reads the temperature of your current condition, allow God’s word to turn your mouth into a thermostat…” Stay with me, if you will.

In some of my less than stellar moments I may have reacted to THAT situation in a meeting, ‘constructive’ feedback from a co-worker, a tense family gathering or even parenting moment (boy mom here) more like a thermometer. Think fever spike, no other symptoms for your toddler at 5pm on a Friday….it’s out of nowhere. Anyone else been there? Just me, okay….

Had I sat back, stayed curious, actually listened and heard what was being said, I could have been a thermostat that changed the temperature for everyone involved by taking ownership of my part in the missed deadline/ failed launch, the misunderstanding or simple observation to come up with a plan for success.

There are so many instances where you walk into a room and can FEEL the energy and you’re stuck with a few choices: 1) absorb the energy, let it bring you down AND make the tension in the room even more palpable; 2) you can turn around and walk back out of the room - not always an option; or 3) stay grounded, stay open, be present and listen.

If you are looking for your team to come to you with all the chaos that can possibly show up in your line of work, you have to keep emotions in check to stay objective much like a thermostat. In Jocko Willink’s book ‘Extreme Ownership’ he shares a scenario where the leader reacts in an emotional way, effectually confirming that no one will come to him in the future with a problem, thus becoming a bottleneck in the team carrying out the strategy. When your team, friend, family, etc come to you, it is better to be present and in the moment but if you’re in the middle of something, set the boundary that you’ll follow up with them in (blank #) hours— and do just that, follow up.

This is something I’d share with my younger self— thermostats set the temperature while thermometers only reflect what the temperature is; which would you rather be?

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