The Mouse That Roared

Iqbal Atcha
Published on: September 2012
Niyati had been the mouse of the group: quiet, sleepy-eyed, engaged but not overly active. She and 10 other professionals had signed up to attend one of my corporate training workshops where we spent the week working on branding ourselves better. One key exercise was designed to help them nail the most common, but crucial question of all... "What made you decide to pursue your profession?" For 4 solid days, I had them walk out on stage and rehearse their story in front of an audience. Some were simply amazing and others, like Niyati, needed practice.

This was the first time they had ever been asked to genuinely focus on the spark that ignited their career. They had gotten so busy with their daily lives and routines that the beginning of their story had become an ancient memory. Day after day, these professionals dug deep into their thoughts and emotions to share their 'why' and in doing so, grew leaps and bounds. Their delivery, style and substance improved dramatically and things were going as planned...until it happened.
the mouse that roared,performance
Niyati sat through every session quietly taking notes but rarely voicing her opinion. On stage, she timidly talked about her childhood, her grandfather's health and the insatiable curiosity she had for everything. Niyati had been putting forth the effort but on our last day, she took the stage for her final performance... and froze.

The group, somewhat in shock, had become close and very supportive. They encouraged her to continue. "You can do it" said Patricia. "Breathe, you'll be ok" said Ryan but all she heard was her own failure. "I can't do this right now, Dr. Atcha. May I please sit down?" I didn't reply and I didn't give her permission. I just smiled and looked at her. This was her mountain and she was going to have to climb it but what she said next stunned me.

With tears in her eyes, Niyati said "Dr. Atcha, I can't finish this right now, but I WILL NOT leave today without doing it right. I came here to become a leader and I WILL leave as one." She sat down and the rest of the class continued giving their speeches. When they had finished, she asked for our permission to return to the stage and with everyone's approval, she took a deep breath and delivered her story.

She impressed us that day, not by what she said but by what she did. She had willingly come back to her own mountain and climbed it out of sheer determination. After she sat down I approached her, placed my hand on her shoulder and said. "Thank you for holding yourself to a higher standard."
Professionals must recognize their own challenges and take them head on. Your bosses, staff and customers will expect great things from you but more importantly, YOU should expect great things from yourself. Hold yourself to that higher standard and you will become a leader, just like the mouse that roared.
On a scale of 1-10, how inspiring did you find this article?