As leaders, our willingness and ability to respond based on values and purpose… as opposed to reacting, which is largely driven by an unwillingness or inability (or both) is of monumental significance.  The former occurs when leaders are conditioned to deal with their feelings in a constructive manner and the latter, when they only know those auto-reponses that have run the show for so long.  Effective leaders know how to understand their feelings and as a result filter them without threatening others in the process.

If you’re the type of leader who measures your effectiveness by how well you build trust and positive influence into your relationships than your on the right field and may be in need of some strength conditioning only.  If your not, you may be on the wrong field which is a much larger hurdle but doable none-the-less.

The author who will make as big a dent in the universe as did Steve Jobs is Stephen Covey. He shares “While on a writing sabbatical in Hawaii, I stumbled across a book in an old library and read three sentences that staggered me and completely changed my life forever.”

He goes on to say, “In between stimulus and response is a space.  In that space lies our power and freedom to choose our response.  In those choices, lies our growth and happiness”.

Most people are genuinely unaware of the automatic way in which they think and act (read react) based on stimuli that comes their way.  I was consistently guilty of this for the first 30 years of my life and while I am significantly better today, it still kicks me in the pants when I choose to let it.  Step one is awareness of how you feel when you catch yourself on auto-pilot, then make the right choice.  

Purposefully placing a pause between what happens and how we respond significantly increases our ability to choose the right path, which in turn increases our opportunity to achieve the results we are charged with.

I started out practicing the pause in conversations and it worked.  I carried this new skill forward to my frustrations when I would get stuck working through a problem or project and it worked.  Sure there were a relapses along the way but awareness and right action is how muscle memory is ultimately redefined.

I’ve exercised the power of pause when thinking of unwrapping a Twinkie I did not need but thought I wanted and now most days after waking but before starting my day, I exercise that same pause to think of all the things I am grateful for.  Amazing how much you miss when your on auto-pilot, but conscious awareness is the key and over time leads to unconscious awareness, aka new and improved habits.

We all have the response-ability to consciously lead based on constructive values and goals rather than unconscious reactions, compliments of our ego and those manufactured stories it makes up to keep us feeling safe.  That’s playing not to loose or playing small ball as a good friend of mine often says.

Business and leadership can be very challenging and while consciously exercising your ability to choose your response will not eliminate all the external challenges you are faced with, it will greatly influence the manner in which you answer them and ultimately grow from them.  It’s your call as to whether you will be bitter or better post event.

If you are not careful… not conscious… your reptilian brain will make choices for you.  Not smart in my book, but everyone gets to make their own choices and in doing so writes their own book.  Check out the list below and see where you stand.


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