November 13, 2015
Even when we are standing perfectly still, there are signals inside us traveling at more then 250 miles per hour. Specifically, information carried along an alpha motor neuron in the spinal cord—and it is the fastest speed within us.
Like so much of the body’s activity, incredibly, this happens all by itself.
On a cellular level, the body is full of these amazing and super complex chain-reactions. And, with so much of that happening on the inside, it might be easy to think that what we do with our lives on the outside, too, is just a series of events that we have no say in. Nothing more than reactions.
Fortunately (and because we are not alpha motor neurons) we do have opportunities to make choices and to live with a true sense of personal responsibility.
Learning how to respond to life—as opposed to react to it—is a skill that can be developed and practiced. As we nurture such an awareness, we begin to pinpoint a certain mindset developing. It is a mindset in which life is no longer happening to us, but instead it is happening with us.
Us and life, each a co-pilot.
Deciding to pause and breathe for a few breaths in a situation can turn a reaction into a response. One in which we can assume responsibility for what we do, say, and cause.
Responding to a situation makes room for assessment and awareness, whereas reacting to it is a much less deliberate process—one likely guided by emotion alone. And when we are acting from a place of fear, stress, confusion, or defensiveness we are likely unable to see a greater picture or context.
In the long-term, learning to respond can mean the difference between feeling like we have had a say in our lives and feeling like we have been strapped in and subjected to the whim of every outside force.
Developing this approach can mean the difference between learning from a mistake once versus making the same mistakes over and over and not realizing it.
Because the strengths speak to the core of who we are, how we operate, and what our best sides look like, when we live from strength and take strengths-centered actions we are likely responding to life instead of reacting to it. When we are living from our strengths we are probably seeing the world clearly and feeling a sense of personal agency.
In practicing this, we may begin to notice fewer and fewer chain-reactions happening in our lives (situations that feel out of control). Instead, we are likely to experience more and more chain-responses (situations that we created consciously).
That is, when we are living from our strengths, we are living toward the best versions of who we are; and that version of us is likely to make decisions based on experience, wisdom, and expectations of greatness, progress, and forward momentum.
If we are living from these places—as opposed to fear, anxiety, shame, regret, and smallness—we are likely to respond to life in a way that is productive and in the best interests of ourselves as well as those whom we affect with our actions.
What is my approach to taking action? Do I think a lot before I start something? Do I jump in with both feet? Do I test the waters? Do I avoid taking action, procrastinate, look for shortcuts, or ways of not having to do things at all? If so, why and is that working for me in my life? What types of thoughts can I cultivate?
Be your greatness. Start. Do. Go.