Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is the power to choose our response.*
When my dad taught at the University of Buffalo, the heart of his MBA classes was teaching about the ‘change agent’. This is the external force that puts change into motion. The change agent, once identified, gives us an understanding of our options and the need to respond, not to react.**
To each stimulus there are three basic possibilities: we can react, respond or initiate. Fragility, resilience/robustness or antifragility^
To respond, or be response-able, is to be in a stronger place than reacting. To initiate, or choose none of the above, is to be in a stronger place still.
Though we cannot prepare for every thing that comes our way, it is worth going into training. Bob Stilger counsels,
When everything falls apart, we must invite our hands and our heart to come out to play, and ask our analytic mind to wait.^^
We’ll be able to do this if we take to heart Rob Walker’s advice to us, to make time for ourselves:
- Scheduling creative play
- Scheduling personal reflection
- Scheduling specific passion-project focus*^.
We’re increasing the space in which we choose.
*Viktor Frankl, quoted in Rob Walker’s The Art of Noticing;
**From Seth Godin’s blog Tilting at Windmills;
^See Nassim Taleb’s Antifragile;
^^Bob Stilger, quoted in Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler’s Bold;
*^From Rob Walker’s The Art of Noticing.