Independence Day — Reactions versus Responses

Happy 4th of July, and specifically happy Independence Day here in the USA.

Being a professional wordsmith, today was the perfect day for me to ponder independence. Not so much the independence of our country, but specifically the independence of our personal actions from our environment.

Many people blame their environment, whether they consciously mean to or not. "He made me so mad" or "The weather is so dreary" both give control of our emotions to something outside of ourselves.

Whatever "he" did was not the cause madness. The internal reaction to his actions was to start feeling mad. That feeling was not caused by an external stimulus. The stimulus prompted an internal choice, conscious or otherwise, that resulted in that person entering a state that they labeled "mad."

Similarly, the weather itself was not dreary. The "dreary" label was applied based on past experiences and current choices that led to an internal state labeled "dreary" and projected onto the weather.

This is where the independence kicks in

Start by taking the stimulus/reaction and replacing it with stimulus/response. When talking about Newtonian physics "every action has an equal and opposite reaction." When it comes to emotions we are not mechanically driven to an "equal and opposite reaction." We get to choose what our response will be.

Most of the time, when we're in a situation where we have a set pattern, it is too late to change our "reaction" into a measured response. This means we need to do a little preparation ahead of time.

State control, and specifically controlling our own emotional states, is best done in a calm and rational moment far removed from the "offending" stimuli. There are a number of NLP technique that can be used for establishing new responses and most, if not all, work best when applied before hand.

Here's a challenge: apply this idea to your business.

Where is your business "reacting" rather than "responding"?
What one area would you like to have more control over?
How will you plan ahead of time to develop that control?