“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” — Viktor E. Frankl.
If I were to summarise what coaching does in one quote - this would be it.
This lesson is too important not to learn.
Viktor Frankel, the Auschwitz survivor who wrote ‘Man's search for Meaning’, identified a truth that when adopted means you will have mastered your mind and therefore your reactions.
By stimulus he means the thing that happens, seemingly, ‘to’ you. A curve ball has just been thrown into a situation at work, an injustice has occurred, that infuriating person has done ‘that thing’ again. All your buttons are pushed and you have no choice but to react like ‘this’ (insert automatic reaction here).... fly off the handle, recoil into my shell, collapse with anxiety… ‘What else am I meant to do? They’ve stood on every value I own!’
Well yes, these are reactions. And yes, you are allowed to have them; but how’s that workin' out for ya? Can’t be fun to live like that. Sounds like you might shoot from the hip and regret it. Or not speak up at all and sit and fester. These, my friends, are not the only reactions available.
Frankel teaches that if we can breathe some space after the stimulus we can choose how to respond.
Great leaders do this. They take themselves out of their immediate emotional response brain, they slow it down and choose their response.
I tell this to many of my clients because it's the epicentre of the work I do with them.
We essentially retrain the brain to slow, quieten, and listen and choose the response.
If you know you are quick to emotional reactions, feel like you're under attack a lot, or take things personally, learn this lesson.