24 years ago, today, Lt. Col. Stanislav Petrov potentially saves the world, by doing nothing.

On 26 September, 1983, Petrov was on duty at Serpukohv-15, a secret bunker outside Moscow which monitored the Soviet Union’s early-warning satellite systems. That night, the warning sounded, signaling to Petrov that the United States had launched five ballistic missiles at Russia.

A lesser man would have taken the signal to be true, especially given the tension between the two countries. And that could have sparked off a nuclear war. Petrov, however, kept his calm, and went with his gut feeling which told him it was a false alarm. And he was right.

He avoided a potential war, by doing nothing. Two lessons we can learn from him. Firstly, sometimes taking action isn’t the best thing to do. There are times we just need to hold back. Secondly, trust your gut. More often than not, it will prove to be right.

What actions are you taking today that you’d be better off not doing?

Story via Wired – Sept. 26, 1983: The Man Who Saved the World by Doing … Nothing