top of page

Cockroach Theory: Managing Your Emotional Reaction From Google's CEO



People who are good at managing their emotions understand that expressing their emotions is healthy, but that how (and when) they express them is important. As a result, they're able to respond to problems in a productive manner.

Sundar Pichai, the CEO of Google, initially presented the following tale in a speech.

At a restaurant, a cockroach suddenly flew from somewhere and sat on a lady. She started screaming out of fear. With a panic-stricken face and trembling voice, she started jumping, with both her hands desperately trying to get rid of the cockroach.


Her reaction was contagious, as everyone in her group also got panicky. The lady finally managed to push the cockroach away but… it landed on another lady in the group. Now, it was the turn of the other lady in the group to continue the drama.


The waiter rushed forward to their rescue. In the relay of throwing, the cockroach next fell upon the waiter. The waiter stood firm, composed himself, and observed the behavior of the cockroach on his shirt. When he was confident enough, he grabbed it with his fingers and threw it out of the restaurant.


Sipping my coffee and watching the amusement, the antenna of my mind picked up a few thoughts and started wondering, was the cockroach responsible for their histrionic behavior? If so, then why was the waiter not disturbed? He handled it near to perfection, without any chaos.


It is not the cockroach, but the inability of those people to handle the disturbance caused by the cockroach, that disturbed the ladies. I realized that it is not the shouting of my father or my boss or my wife that disturbs me, it’s not the traffic jam that upsets me.


It’s my inability to manage my reaction to what happens around me.

Some things are in our control and others are not. Things in our control are opinion, pursuit, desire, aversion, and, in a word, whatever are our own actions. Things not in our control are body, property, reputation, command, and, in a word, whatever are not our own actions. A core principle of Stoicism is that we can influence the world around us, and we can’t always control what we feel or think, but we can always control how we act. As what the Famous Stoic Philosopher Epictetus wrote.


As Victor Frankl wrote in Man’s Search for Meaning:

Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom. Next time you’re in a compromising situation, consider it an opportunity to grow this space.


Source: Cody McLain


About the Writers:


Maina Zaina, Writer and a Virtual Assistant at AVCreativity Studio. She enjoys media entertainment and is an avid fan of "K-Wave". She loves her job because she is exposed to different types of entertainment. She also believes in the saying "If you want to be successful, don't seek success - seek competence, empowerment; do nothing short of the best that you can do" by Jaggi Vasudev


Pamela Elizabeth, Editor-in-Chief at AVCreativity Studio. Earned a Bachelor’s Degree of Secondary Education Major in English. She loves going on little adventures alongside reading good books. She is enthusiastic about her work and ensures that her clients receive the finest service possible.

8 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page