This is Part Two of Reflect and Respond: Don’t React. If you missed Part One, you can listen to it here: LTL 067: Reflect and Respond: Don’t React Part One.
Respond Or React
Leaders don’t just lead at the office. They lead well in all areas of life. In my opinion, the reason why many of us are so reactionary is that we don’t practice reflection and we don’t take sufficient time to plan.
We react to our circumstances rather than respond. Consider that for a moment. What is the difference between reacting and responding? When I think of reacting, I think knee-jerk. In other words, unplanned, no contemplation, thought, or consideration. Like when a doctor gives you a physical and tests your elbow or your knee with that little hammer. You don’t really think about it – reflex takes over and your body responds!
King Solomon, wrote in Proverbs 15:1 that a soft answer turns away wrath and a harsh word stirs up anger. Reacting vs. responding. Reacting is the harsh word that stirs up anger. It’s the response that isn’t thought through. Responding considers the matter (usually upon reflection) and makes a “best” choice given the circumstance.
Planned And Intentional
Let me show you a grand example from my life of where I tend to react vs. respond. My wife and children will tell you that I have a reactionary response to other drivers on the road. Someday, I’ll ask my son to parody me when driving. It’s pure unhealthy, unspoiled reaction if I don’t intentionally decide how I’m going to respond.
When someone irritates you while driving, is any amount of tailgating, cursing (aloud or under breath), honking, or giving dirty looks/hand gestures, going to bring any resolution to the matter? “Oh, yes, you are correct. I should not have done that and I no longer will tailgate you or anyone else now when in traffic.” No, of course not. You aren’t going to teach them a lesson that they will never forget – unless you literally plan to get out at the next stoplight and beat them.
If you take two seconds and reflect on this potential course of action, might you realize that an assault and battery charge with potential impacts to your family and career, might not be the desired outcome? Your response will then change based on your consideration of the circumstances. BRILLIANT!
When You Respond Instead Of React, You:
1) Know What’s Most Important
How do I determine what’s important? Start by reflecting on the list of things that demand your attention. What of those things (health, family, friends, community, social, work, day-to-day) is most important to you at the moment?
There are seasons to life and that’s why ongoing reflection is so critical. There can’t be fifty things that are “most important.” My guess is there are two or three. They are the big rocks that go in the jar first. Michael Hyatt calls these the Big Three. You should start each day with a focus on the Big Three because they are what’s going to move the needle for you.
It could be that during this season (think of it in terms of three-month blocks of time, like Todd Herman’s 90 Day Year), you and your spouse decide that getting an upcoming promotion is the most important thing. If you make it the priority, you will need help. You can’t maintain your normal responsibilities if you shift your focus.
For the next three months, you are going to do everything you can to demonstrate that you indeed are deserving of the promotion. That might mean that you don’t try to coach your youngest daughter’s volleyball team this year. Or it might mean that your son doesn’t participate in this season of rec league soccer.
2) Dedicate Appropriate Resources
When you say something is most important, it can’t just be lip service. The important things have to get priority of time, dollars and other required resources.
Maybe you have just started a new healthy diet and exercise routine recommended by your doctor and meal prep is going to take you a bit longer than normal as you start. It might mean that you choose during the initial days of that process to prioritize it over watching the evening news. It’s not that you will never get to watch the evening news again, it’s that right now, your time is better served by focusing on the most important thing: your health.
Once the big rock is in place (your health) in the jar, you can start to identify where little rocks or sand fit. For instance, maybe you record the news and watch it later when you are on the treadmill.
3) Have A System For Evaluating Conflicts
As soon as you have established the priority, a conflict will surely arise. How will you deal with them? It’s good to have in mind your criteria for resolving a conflict. It should also be aligned with the things that are most important to you and will usually involve some form of communicating with the requester to help identify the impacts to all involved based on an intended course of action.
There will be times when it will make sense to alter your priorities, but when you do, you will know why you are doing it and there will be support for your response. And when you have the big three, you can blame them for your “No” – remember, everything you say “Yes” to, means there is something you said “No” to – don’t let it be one of your big three.
4) Don’t Let Others Establish Your Schedule
If you don’t set your schedule, your approach to your day, others will. If you have no priorities, then the priorities others have for you will rule your day. Even your own misguided actions will derail your day if you don’t have a solid plan for how you will invest your time. The social media black hole mentioned earlier is a great example of this. Maybe taking five minutes to send birthday wishes was on the calendar, but the next 30 minutes of YouTube puppy videos wasn’t. I’m not saying don’t use FB to wish someone happy birthday, but some of you would do anything to avoid
5) Take A Long-Term View Of Your Priorities
If my priority is working on getting my degree, and I know that getting that degree or certification means that I will be positioned to earn $20 more per hour (an addtl $40k / yr), then the value of that is measured over the length of my career, not the one or two years of inconvenience or the immediate cost to obtain it. Now, if obtaining that degree puts me in conflict with another number one priority (being present at all of my daughter’s dance recitals), then I have to go through my process in step #3.
This is how you must manage your life in order to keep life from happening to you. If you do this, you will be able to respond to situations from a place of preparedness instead of frantically reacting.
Resources Mentioned In This Episode:
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