Ready to React? Hit Pause.

I miss the energy and pace of Olympic short track. Skaters at the line, primed to go, skate tips in the ice, bodies into position, leaning into the start, the gun is about to fire and then . . . false start. A false start affects everyone as all of the skaters are sent back to the starting line to set up again.

False starts and racing go hand in hand like reaction and organizations. In organizations, reaction affects everyone. It is possible to send everyone back to the starting line in an organization - but it rarely happens. Something occurs, a leader reacts, the race is on, and folks, it's an all out recipe for disaster.

The Costs of Reaction

Organizations experience breakdowns each and every day. Although they may not be visible organization wide, make no mistake, they are there. They occur when what was heard was not what was said, what was determined was not what was intended, what was intended was ignored, what was reasoned was unreasonable, or the classic statement,  "nothing said I couldn't do it" is uttered.

Can you see it now? Managers at the line, primed to go, skate tips into the ice, bodies into position, leaning into the start and then  . . . reaction. A situation quickly progresses to finger pointing, blame and then the situation moves behind closed doors (only reactive managers allowed) and efforts are underway to do whatever it takes to ensure "that" never happens again.

At best, organizations that permit reactive leadership end up with people fighting for position, doing whatever they can to get to the finish line first - any way they can - and here's the kicker, ditching personal responsibility, accountability, and respect for the individual along the way.

A Giant Pause Button

It doesn't have to be that way.

In his post, The Space Between the Stimulus and the Response, Michael Hyatt writes about his personal experiences and finding the space that exists between the stimulus and the response. He writes, "This space is like a giant pause button. We don't have to react to every stimulus. Instead, we can pause, reflect, and chose our our response. This is precisely what makes us human."

See, if an event is the stimulus and reaction is the response, there is another way. The great thing about this is that anyone, yes, anyone, can hit the pause button and take time to cool down and not react or respond in defense, ego protection, or anger. 

Making the Right Choice

Although there is not a red starting line across the front lobby, the proverbial starting line is always present in an organization.  Feeling the urge, ready to pounce? Don't.

Hit the pause button, head back to the starting line and create some space. In this space is the power to choose. Choose well.


Photo credit iStock Photo