I thought I might revisit this subject this week. I have been working with some clients over the last few weeks and, interestingly, the same subject came up a couple of times with different people. There have been clients and family who have felt pressured, stressed or angry about a given situation. The impact of this is that they felt badly in themselves during and afterwards. The situation had put them into a negative state – A bad mood for a time.
When we are able to strip things back, we find that the issue often belongs with someone else and we have allowed ourselves an emotional reaction to it e.g. we lash out, we get angry, we cry, we get into heated arguments about the situation. It’s a human reaction. It’s who we are.
I am minded of a lesson that I learned many years ago, when I went through a course with my employer at the time; The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. It was Habit 1 – Be Proactive. The module had a video where Steven R. Covey talked about a situation that a prisoner of war in the Nazi death camp -Viktor Frankl was in. He was the victim of torture and other indignities. It was on one of the days when he was in a room, cold and naked that he became aware of what he later called, ‘the last of the human freedoms’ – something the Nazi’s couldn’t take away- his right to choose his response. He would project himself into different circumstances in his mind, such as being in his garden at home, lecturing to his students in the classroom after his release. It is all very detailed in his book, but he eventually had more freedom than his captors. They had more liberty, more options to choose from but he had greater freedom, more internal power to exercise his options.
The principle is that in the moment between stimulus and response – what’s happening and your response, you have the freedom to choose your response. You can take responsibility. This is how proactive people behave. Our lives are a product of our values, not our feelings; a product of our decisions and not the conditions we find ourselves. The opposite is being reactive, which is a function of our feelings, moods or other peoples’ treatment.
Response ability – Choose your response. Respond how you choose to. You should not allow another person the power to dictate how you are going to feel at any given time. You will take 100 percent of that power back by responding how you choose to respond. What you will find as a result is that you are more empowered, less stressed or less pressured and more positive. You aren’t wasting your energy on situations that do not matter. Situations that you cannot influence. Why? Because you were proactive!
Proactive people look at where we spend our time and effort. If you consider the diagram from Steven Covey’s course – you will see the Circle of Influence and the Circle of Concern. A lot of us spend our time, effort and energy in the Circle of Concern – an area that we have absolutely no influence on outcomes. The Circle of Influence is where we are proactive. Where we can make a difference and be effective at work, home or play.
I will leave you with this. Some new software was downloaded to my mobile phone that highlights how long you use the device for and how long you use different apps for. If I told you how many hours, I played Diamond Dash for, in my downtime, on a weekly basis……
I loved playing it for years, but it had to go. Deleted! That’s a considerable number of hours that I can spend being more proactive and productive.
Take on a proactive mindset. The response ability for your responses.
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