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The Two Rooms (Which do you choose?)

By Corey Simpson

Two brothers were given land by their wise grandfather, a King. The King had to choose his successor based on how they handled their newly gifted land and subjects.

The two brothers informed the tired and hungry subjects that they would be feeding them in two separate dining halls each had constructed.

Brother 1 displayed a feast the likes of which most had never seen before. “This brother MUST be our King. Look at how he treats us”, the subjects proclaimed as they looked over the sumptuous meal prepared. Brother 1 looked on proudly, soaking in their admiration, proud of his feat.

Brother 2 had a small, modest offering of a sandwich and some vegetables. “I will provide a meal two times a day. At dawn and dusk. Nothing fancy and a limited supply for those who wanted to join me.” said Brother 2.

The subjects all laughed at Brother 2 and ran back to Brother 1’s dining hall where they ate until they couldn’t eat anymore.  They applauded the first brother and chanted his name while he gleaned from ear to ear with pride for what he had done.  They all told him how much better his feast was compared to his brother’s meager rations and said they cannot wait to see what he does next.  

The next day, starving, they again lined up at Brother 1’s dining hall, believing that there would surely be a feast awaiting them.  Watching all of this happen from his own dining hall, Brother 2 greeted them and told them they were all welcome to join him for a small modest meal.  “My room will have two modest meals a day”, reminded the second brother. “They will not be fancy or large, but they will always be here for those who want them at dusk and dawn every day.”

For the next week, the subjects continued to line up outside of Brother 1’s dining hall, holding onto hope that the feast would reappear. again. Finally, one night, the doors to Brother 1’s opened as he apologized.  He was exhausted from the first feast and needed to source and prepare amazing food for his next feast to make his subjects proud and to receive their applause again.

Once again, they cheered and chanted Brother 1’s name as he took his bow. They laughed and ate so much food they could barely walk home that night as they all fell in love with Brother 1 again and forgave him for disappearing on them for the previous three nights.  

Brother 1 would continue to open and close his room sporadically, and without warning unveiling the most incredible feast to his subjects. This pattern persisted, and the subjects grew tired and distressed with the inconsistent behavior. Over time the number of subjects who would show up to Brother 1’s room had dwindled. The emptiness they felt from never knowing whether or not they’d have enough food weighed on them heavily. 

Eventually, the subjects stopped lining up outside Brother 1’s dining hall at all as they never knew when they could enter the room. 

Brother 2 was true to his word and fed them twice a day without fail. “It has never been fancy, but it’s always there when we need it” they all agreed. Steadily, Brother 2 was able to earn the trust and loyalty of his subjects simply by being consistent. 

After a period of time had passed, he was crowned the King of the land. His subjects came to trust and rely on him as their leader. The newly crowned King remained true to his word and nourished his loyal subjects every day while they built a great kingdom together.

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When you rely on food for survival and you never know when you’re going to get that next feast, you will eventually stop relying on it. Knowing you’re going to get a few consistent “meals” each day gives us confidence, safety and builds trust. It removes what would otherwise be a constant stressor, allows you to plan your day, and avoids wasted time.  

The intensity of an inconsistent feast will leave you full for the moment but always wondering when you’ll get it again. In business, as in life in general, focus on delivering modest “consistent meals” every day instead of delivering a sporadic “feast”. 

Inconsistent bursts of energy and needing to constantly feel motivated to do the big task eventually lead to burnout. Your “subjects” will eventually stop trying to get into the room and follow the leader they know will be there when they need them most. 

If you are seeking applause and admiration, you’re doing it for the wrong reason. Be persistent and consistent and focus on the process and not the “goal”. It’s more sustainable.  Be true to your word. Always do what you say you will do.  That is leadership.  

Who are you drafting onto your team for the long term?

I’ll take someone who shows up on time (consistently) and is coachable versus the unreliable rockstar every time. Consistency vs. Intensity.  

December 29, 2021

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