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The Princess and the Pea: Lessons on High Performance

Do you know the fairy tale of the princess and the pea? The story goes like this; A prince is looking for a wife, when a woman comes to the door looking for a place to stay. She says she’s a princess but in order to verify this the prince’s mother puts a pea under 20 mattresses and 20 feather beds. The next day the princess wakes up and reluctantly admits that she slept poorly. This verifies that she's a real princess! Of course, the prince and princess are married and live happily ever after.

I’ve always loved this story because as a highly sensitive person I felt like the story was telling me that I am a princess. I also thought that the real message was that having pee (pea) in your bed is very uncomfortable.

But what does the story really mean? And how can it help us in our careers?

High sensitivity is a key to high potential. The princess was very attuned to small things that could have a big impact. As you scan the landscape of your world, what small thing is almost unnoticeable, but could be a big threat? A great opportunity?

What peas are causing you discomfort? Such a little thing, a pea! Hardly worth thinking about. But removing that pea would have vastly improved the quality of the princess' beauty sleep. What are tiny peas under your proverbial mattress? Is there a task that you hate doing and drags your energy down? Is there a person that you can’t seem to get along with? What would life be like if you removed those peas? Get those peas out of your mattress!

How many mattresses are you piling on top of that pea? When something is causing us discomfort or pain, we often pile mattresses on top of it to lessen the pain. I saw an ad recently of a company looking for “Business - IT relationship manager.” The position was basically a cushion between IT and their Business partner because they haven’t figured out how to get the two groups to communicate. (if that company is reading this, call me, I can help you!) What excess cushioning are you using to mask pain and discomfort? What is it costing you?

Do you resonate most with the princess, the pea or the mattresses? Let us know!

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