Between the stimulus and the response is your greatest power

By Helen Whelan

We face constant choice and can actually change the outcome by our response. You might want to read this again.

It took me awhile to actually get this.  the power of choice

It could be an interaction with an angry client, a demanding boss, or employees who aren’t coping well to change. Stephen Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, said, “Between the stimulus and the response is your greatest power–you have the freedom to choose your response.” And, if you choose wisely, you’ll influence those around you and expand your “circle of influence.” You’ll be more effective because you’re focusing on what you can change instead of wasting energy on who or what to blame.

Watch Stephen Covey video.

For example, you could be under a lot of budgetary pressure and an employee asks you for a 10% raise. You could react and scream at the employee or avoid him/her altogether. The result, s/he is probably looking for another job and his/her productivity plummets. That outcome changes based on how you respond.

This isn’t easy.

Covey would counsel for you to think of the leader you want to become and how that wise person would respond. How would you react then?   Would listening to the employee and acknowledging his/her value make more sense? What about explaining your division’s budgetary situation and thinking of a compromise or other ways to acknowledge his/her contribution? What would the effect be?   Most likely, a more empowered, productive employee.

Some would argue this is easier said than done. True.  But, Covey offers some ways we can gain mastery of our reactions and become more proactive:

  1. Meditation and/or prayer,
  2. Keeping a journal so you can observe yourself and your actions,
  3. Counting to ten and asking yourself ‘what’s the wise response?” before you react.
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