It is inevitable that we will be provoked in life. As leaders, we are also going to find ourselves in situations where we are called upon to lay down the law: We’ll have to fire people. We’ll have to dock people’s pay. We’ll have to decide not to do business with someone because they’ve lied to us, insulted us, or shown a side of themselves we didn’t know was there. So it is with parents, as well, who are obligated to teach tough lessons to their children so that they can be safe and grow up to be good people.
Some of us recoil from this uncomfortable reality, others love it. They like the feeling of that power, maybe even a little too much. Regardless of where you are on that spectrum, you would do well to remember Seneca’s advice about the importance of rational, deliberative thinking. He reminds us:
“A punishment that’s delayed can still be imposed, but once imposed, it can’t be withdrawn.”
This is a trademark of Stoicism. Don’t be rash. Don’t rush in. Don’t let your emotions dictate your thinking. Our words can’t be unsaid, so we should think carefully before we say them. Our actions can’t be undone, so we should be cautious before we take them. Life is unpredictable, so our responses must be measured and purposeful.
That’s what a good person, a good leader, and a good parent does (and teaches in so doing).