Whose cat are you kicking?

I first heard this story nearly twenty years ago and its message has always stayed with me. It was originally told by the famous motivational speaker, Zig Ziglar, many years ago and has a message we can all learn from.

How many times has something made you angry and you vented that anger out on someone else in your office, someone who didn’t deserve it? We don’t realize the chain reaction that can cause. Take a minute to ponder the following story:

Mr. B was the top dog in a very large company. Every morning, he met some of his buddies for breakfast. One morning, he lost track of time, looked at his watch, and realized he was going to be late for work. He left the restaurant and jumped in his car. He barely had the engine started when he threw it in reverse to back out. He burned rubber leaving the parking lot. As he got on the freeway, he put the pedal to the metal and took off. 

As he sped down the highway, he looked in his rear view mirror. His heart skipped a beat when he saw the flashing lights. He pulled over and rolled down his window.

“Where are you going in such a hurry,” the officer asked.

“I need to get to work,” he replied abruptly, “I’m a very important man,” declared Mr. B

“Well, you’re not above the law,” the officer said.

“I didn’t say I was … but shouldn’t you be chasing real criminals and leave me alone?”

That was the wrong thing to say, because the officer replied, “I’ll leave you alone in a few minutes. Let me see your driver’s license, registration, and proof of insurance.”

Mr. B handed him the requested information. Then he sat there and stewed. As the minutes passed by, he got more and more angry.

The officer came back and handed Mr. B a ticket, along with the rest of his documents. Mr. B grabbed them out of the officer’s hand, rolled up his window, and took off down the road.

By the time Mr. B finally arrived at work, he was very unhappy about how late it was. The first person he saw was his sales manager.

“Good morning, Mr. B” said the sales manager with a smile.

“There’s nothing good about it,” barked Mr. B, “I want to see you in my office NOW!”

The sales manager followed him into his office, and Mr. B threw his coat down on the couch, obviously peeved. “You fell short of your goal last week for the second week in a row. I want to know what you’re going to do to get back on track and I want to know now.”

“Mr. B,” the sales manager objected, “We just talked about this yesterday. We have four big deals. Any one of them will put us over the top and I’m sure we’ll get at least one of them.”

“I’ll believe it when I see it,” Mr. B blurted out while looking at some papers on his desk. “You’re dismissed.”

The bewildered sales manager walked back to his office, and promptly yelled at his assistant for not having the documents ready for him to sign, despite the fact he’d just given them to her.

The assistant stormed out into the lobby, threw the pile of documents on the receptionist’s desk and said “I need these typed right now, and don’t go to lunch until they’re ready.”

The receptionist arrives home, late because of the extra work she had to do, that wasn’t even part of her job. She sees her twelve-year old son, pants pocket torn, lying on the floor in front of the television, and she lays into him. “I work hard all day to buy you clothes, and I get home from work and see you’ve torn another pair of jeans, and all you do is lie around the house. I would appreciate a little help around here. No more television for you…go to your room.” 

Muttering to himself about the unfairness of it all, the boy heads to his room, when the family cat unwisely chose that moment to cross his path. The boy kicked the cat, and sent him scurrying from the room.

This story begs us to ask the question:
Wouldn’t it have been much better, for everyone involved, if Mr. B had just gone directly to the receptionist’s house and kicked her cat himself?

Now ask yourself: 
Whose cat are you kicking?

The next time you get upset for whatever reason, stop for a minute, calm down, and take a breath before you in turn take that anger out on one of your co-workers. Our actions have consequences, consequences we may never know, but consequences none-the-less. Don’t be the person who kicks their cat.

We see our co-workers probably more than we see our own families. These are the people you spend most of your time with during the week, so it’s important to treat them with respect and kindness. Remember that negativity begets negativity and the same is true for being positive. We get what we give.