What Are Your Melting and Boiling Points?
If you recall from your high school or college chemistry class, each substance has three states: solid, liquid, and gas. As temperature is increased, each substance reaches its own melting point and subsequently its own boiling point.
melting point: the temperature at which a substance changes from a solid to a liquid
boiling point: the temperature at which a substance changes from a liquid to a gas
What are your melting and boiling points?
- At what temperature (as induced by stress, problems, tension, drama) do you melt? How much pressure and stress does it take for you to cave in, melt down, become liquefied and unable to keep it together?
- At what temperature do you boil over? How much heat can you withstand before you become emotional, uncontrolled, erratic—operating in anger?
During a 2004 interview, former Chief Justice of the United States, William Rehnquist, was asked which personal qualities caused him to excel in his position. At this point in his career, he had served about 18 years as a chief justice, and was very highly regarded in the country and on the court.
After thinking on the question briefly, he smiled and said his passive nature and high boiling point were key to his success. He said staying calm and unruffled was imperative in leading eight other highly intelligent and independently thinking individuals in adjudicating complex and infinitely consequential court cases.
When the temperature gets higher for us, we naturally deploy a set of skills and habits as a means to cope with the pressure. We combat stressful situations with a set of default patterns of thoughts and emotions.
I wonder how many of us would react with the grace of this man…
In 1873 prominent American lawyer Horatio Spafford lost his four daughters as a ship carrying them and his wife sank on the way to England. She sent the now famous telegraph, “Survived alone.” He sailed to England to meet his grieving wife. Passing the point where the doomed ship had sunk, Spafford wrote the beloved hymn, “It Is Well With My Soul,” demonstrating his deeply grounded faith.
When peace like a river
attendeth my way;
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.
What does it take for you or I to “lose it?” What does it take to make us angry? To give up? What pushes us over the edge?
Just like the substances in chemistry class, the melting points and boiling points are unique for all of us.
The person who can withstand the heat is the one who has developed foundational principles which can be employed at a moment’s notice. He has adopted codes, beliefs, and values that are brought to bear when the temperature soars.
It is not a coincidence that the greatest business people, world leaders, and those of high esteem are solid—especially when the heat is on. Mandela was in prison for 27 years and remained solid coming out to lead his country against tyranny. Martin Luther King Jr. was imprisoned and constantly threatened but stayed solid.
As I look at the periodic table and the boiling and melting points of each element, I see something very interesting:
It takes a temperature of 2,807 degrees Celsius to cause gold to boil over.
May we as leaders dedicate ourselves to intentionally digging deep and continually developing the character that will keep us unmoved when life’s temperature rises!
Friend, I wish for you and me to be like solid gold: able to withstand incredible heat and remain beautiful under pressure.
3 Traits You Need When You Want to Give Up