Helping leaders emerge


Is that So? A Different Approach to Drama

I love Trader Joes, not only for the food, but for the people who work there, who always have a smile on their face, a bottle of wine to recommend, and a story to share. I heard this one recently from Ben, one of my favorite Trader Joe employees…..

A beautiful Japanese girl whose parents owned a food store lived near the head priest, “first monk,” called Hakuin. One day, the young girl’s parents discovered she was pregnant. This made her parents angry. At first, she would not confess who the man was, but after much harassment she named the monk as the father of the unborn child.

In great anger the parents went to the monk and inquired. The only thing the monk would say, “is that so?”

After the child was born, the baby was brought to the monk. By this time, the monk had lost his reputation and had been ostracized by his community. However, this did not trouble him, instead he took very good care of the baby, obtaining milk from the neighbors and anything else the child needed.

A year later, the girl could stand it no longer. She told her parents the truth, that the real father of the child was not the monk.

The mother and father of the girl quickly went to the monk to ask forgiveness, apologize at length, and get the child back. The monk only responded, “Is that so?” and willingly gave them the child.

I find this story meaningful in that it reminds me to try to stay grounded and out of the drama…which many of my executive clients strive to do as well. That is how they strive to “show up,” maintaining their leadership presence by remaining centered, calm, and not rattled by the chaotic environment and people surrounding them. Would love to hear how you’re doing, feel free to shoot me an email with your “is that so?” story.