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Respond vs. React?

Mindset May 4, 2021

Are they the same thing? I say NO

I hadn’t thought about the difference until a year ago while sitting in a workshop for entrepreneurs. For as long as I can remember I have had a full schedule day in and day out. You could even say I thrive on it. The problem is I was in reaction mode. 

Years ago when I was working on my doctorate I would work all day and then spend several hours a night studying or writing papers. Heck when Judy was pregnant with Sydney and going into labor I was in the office writing a paper. She didn’t think she was in labor yet and kept complaining about her “back pain”. Turns out she was in labor. 

So I packed up my laptop and we headed to the hospital. Once they got us checked in and she got an epidural I went back to work on my paper. She was sleeping, so I don’t want you to think I was ignoring my wife. 

The point is I stay busy. I can remember finishing my doctorate and having this weird sense of “now what”? I have all of this time but I don’t know what to do, I actually felt lost. 

So how does this relate to responding vs. reacting?

When your schedule is full day in and day out you don’t have time to relax, think and process what you really need to do. You are moving from one thing to another and before long things seem out of hand. You are in reaction mode! Your calendar and other people are controlling your day and you are “putting out fires”. When the day is over you look up and realize you didn’t get anything accomplished. 

Now responding is totally different. If you have planned and thought about your day and you have some buffer time built in it makes it easier to take a moment to breathe and assess the situation. You have the opportunity to think about the question or challenge and respond in a clear, calm direction. 

Since we are living in interesting times a lot of us are just reacting to the “new normal”. We are letting the media and others influence our lives by not taking the time to think about what they are saying or how you should respond, instead most are making quick emotional decisions and reacting strongly. 

The truth is we can only control our responses to the environment and events we are experiencing. We can’t control everything and this has never been more true. What we can do now is work on staying calm and think about our responses to the situation. 

Most people have more time now on their hands compared to several months ago. The problem is now we are settling into a new routine, I touched on this last month. This could be good or bad, I don’t know, however you have the opportunity to make it something great. 

So do you respond or react? Well I would like to tell you I am expert in this area but truthfully I am constantly working on it. Some tips that help me are:

  1. Evaluate prior experiences and ask if the way you responded or reacted was the best way? If given the opportunity to have the experience over again what would you change?
  2. Plan your day–but leave some “wiggle room”. In my quest for great productivity I would invariably over schedule myself and not leave any room for error. My day and emotions would run away if one thing didn’t go according to plan or something took longer than normal. Ask what can I eliminate or delegate to someone else? 
  3. Maintain your systems. We all know what happens when we don’t keep our cars tuned up or stay on top of our health. Slowly but surely things begin to wear out or not run as efficiently as they should. Over time things will break down and we are faced with a larger problem. Taking time to schedule in some maintenance of our various systems in our life can safeguard us from major problems down the road. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. 

Hopefully this helps you evaluate how you spend your day and what you can do to make it better. 

This is also a great time to evaluate your recent responses or reactions. Kaizen…Remember the KEY is to start so small that it is impossible to fail. 

We can’t control the events that happen around us but we can control our response to the event and our actions. 

This article is a reprint of our August 2020 newsletter. If you are not currently receiving our monthly newsletter and would like to receive it please call the office at 817-220-MOSS (6677).

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