Are You a Thermometer … or a Thermostat?

As you know, we’ve been providing “classic” lessons, anecdotes, allegories, parables, and narratives from past generations in the hope of providing inspiration and encouragement to those “future leaders” in today’s business world. The more I review these “generational gems,” the more I believe we should be sharing them with our children and grandchildren as well. They’re easily understood and certainly provide the wisdom and guidance needed to cope with the many challenges we face today. Here’s another “gem” to pass along.


In most every office, home and business you can easily find that small, yet familiar, unit that hangs on the wall as it determines our level of comfort. Within this apparatus you’ll find two critical components—a thermometer and a thermostat.

When you stop and think about it, we can be very much like either of those components. Which one are you? Think about it—a thermometer measures the temperature. A thermostat changes the temperature. One tells about the conditions surrounding it while the other makes a difference in those conditions in the environment where it is located.

Isn’t that very much like the choices we face day in and day out? Upon further examination, you must admit that just about anyone can describe a situation or complain about a problem. In fact, a lot of people do just that on a regular basis. Let’s be honest, it’s not too difficult to be a thermometer.

However, in our role as leaders at any level, it’s our responsibility to make a difference in the atmosphere in which we exist. We’re expected to be condition changers—we’re thermostats … not thermometers!

Your family, friends and associates appreciate someone who is under control, who doesn’t succumb to stress, who’s steady and reliable. Those thermostat people are rare—and valuable.

It takes courage to make the move from a thermometer to a thermostat—one who has the inner power to set a new direction. Perhaps, the greatest challenge that you will ever face is developing the courage that brings you an unshakable self-confidence. Fortunately, developing courage can be learned and even enhanced—it just takes practice.

Strive constantly to develop and strengthen two habits which will serve you well in your quest for success:

Habit 1:
Perhaps, the most important kind of courage is the courage to begin, to launch, to take that initial step toward your goal. The future belongs to the risk takers, not the security seekers. The more you seek opportunity, the more likely you will achieve the security you desire. Plan and prepare thoroughly in advance. Be proactive. Set clear goals and objectives, and then gather information. Read and research your chosen field of endeavor. 

Habit 2:
Develop the courage to endure, to persist, to stay at it once you have begun, no matter what. Plan your work and work your plan. Hang in there even in the face of disappointment and unexpected short-term setbacks. Tenacity is a tremendous attribute.

So which will you be … a Thermostat or Thermometer? The choice is yours to make. Choose wisely.

About Harry K. Jones

Harry K. Jones is a motivational speaker and consultant for AchieveMax®, Inc., a company of professional speakers who provide custom-designed seminars, keynote presentations, and consulting services. Harry's top requested topics include change management, customer service, creativity, employee retention, goal setting, leadership, stress management, teamwork, and time management. For more information on Harry's presentations, please call 800-886-2629 or fill out our contact form.

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