The mystery of Gandhi's lost sandal

>> Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Source: AP Photo - Gandhi's Sandals
One day, Gandhi ran to catch a train. As he clambered aboard the last coach, he noticed he was wearing only one sandal. The other sandal had been left behind on the platform. The train was gathering speed.

If you were Gandhi, what would you do? Think of your answer before reading on.

I’ve told this story to hundreds of people. People usually respond in one of three ways:
a) The risk takers try to retrieve the sandal. "I've got to get my sandal back!"
b) The risk averse resign themselves to getting a new pair. "Oh well. That's life."
c) Other people are paralyzed. They're still thinking of what to do hours later.

Everyday, we face mini-dilemmas like Gandhi's lost sandal. Should I reply to the email or should I wait? Do I shout back or do I keep quiet? Do I do this or that? Quite often, we respond in one of those three ways.

Is there a better way to respond? And what did Gandhi do?

He threw his other sandal on the platform.

In that simple action, Gandhi demonstrated his extraordinary ability to think on his, errr, feet.

So when we face mini-dilemmas, here are three great tips on how to think like Gandhi:
1. Think practical. Don't philosophize. The train is leaving. So use your common sense.
2. Think speed. Gandhi demonstrated phenomenal speed to the point of intuition. This takes a lifetime of practice.
3. Think greater good. Make a decision that benefits more people, rather than just yourself.


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The research, writing and publication of this book were supported by a fellowship grant awarded to Alvin Ung from Khazanah Nasional Berhad.

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