Be The Thermostat

“You’ve got to be a thermostat rather than a thermometer. A thermostat shapes the climate..a thermometer just reflects it.”
Cornel West

The choice is yours. You can shape your world or let it shape you.

A human thermostat (consultant, advisor, expert) listens exquisitely and instinctively knows when to dial the conversation up or down. The thermometer just supports the loudest or most powerful person in the room.

The thermostat isn’t afraid to put difficult issues on the table, trusting in his/her ability to moderate the dialogue. The thermometer observes the group anxiously, hoping to soothe over conflict by reflecting the most popular opinion.

A really top-of-the-line thermostat—with highly sensitive settings—is expensive. A thermometer? Pocket change.

Which would you rather be?


  • Krissia Manansala

    Ooo nice one Ms. Moulton! I’d say that was one unforgettable post. We’ve all got to be movers and shakers at some point. Why not now?

    -Krissia Manansala

  • A golden nugget, indeed, Rochelle!

  • Thanks Krissa and Aaron–Let’s all go turn up the heat!

  • I just love the metaphors.
    An important clarification. A true thermostat knows when to apply the heat or cool down. Some ideas might not be ripe for a particular group, crowd or audience (“Every good idea has its time.”). Thus, the best thermostats know the people in the setting as best one can, lay groundwork, perhaps silence the naysayers in advance; a strategic approach. Even the best among us can get bitten if we fail to prepare.

  • Thanks Corey–Cornel just nailed it and I couldn’t resist riffing on it. I like your strategic additions!

  • Marcos Dantas

    An interesting comparation and a good point for reflection!
    Going one step forward and saying the same thing in others words…
    Some people take the role of controling the Thermostat and some people take the role of observeing the Thermometer…
    The Thermostat and the Thermometer are only machines…
    The Thermometert works alone and just reflect and show the situation, but the Thermostat needs some one to set the desired situation…
    Bouth are good machines and do a value and distinct work.
    Some people are born to set and some people are born just to follow.
    We need to discover of kind of people we’re born to be!

  • peter getpff

    I agree, Ms. Moulton you have done it again. Thanks for the inspiration, as always.
    And I know this opens up a whole other area for discourse, analysis, reflection but…to continue the thermostat riff-an expensive thermostat in order to work properly will require regular maintenance! “Maintenance” can take many shapes or forms: good self-care, commitment to professional growth and development, etc etc.
    It is not cheap to maintain an expensive thermostat..but it is sure worth it to keep it great working order!


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