With the demands of life – work, personal, community, life, it is no wonder most of us are constantly reacting! Reacting to put out a fire, defend work, respond to an inquiry, or solve a urgent pressing issue. React to get “it” out of the way and make space for more reacting. React to say “we did it” and move on. Only to have to “do it again and again” and eventually become exhausted and over taxed.
Reacting is a talent, one many of us master without ever intending to. It is learned through experience and need (and what is being rewarded) and we become great at it over time. Even heroic! And, it isn’t truly resilience.
Resilience Isn’t Reaction
Resilience isn’t reaction, and yet it can include reaction. Thoughtful and meaningful reaction.
My son plays soccer and if I do say so myself, he might be the next Messi—he is amazing, has beautiful, fancy footwork and is intentional (smart) on the field. Ok, I know I am biased! But, he is not about hogging the ball, doesn’t stress out about what is happening (or not happening) on the field, doesn’t react to the crowd or even his coach yelling all that much. He instead is fully present; he is observant, curious, constantly looking and planning for ways he can make a difference, make a choice or create an opportunity for his teammates… and he has a blast! He is in the moment with the player he is marking and when he has the ball, he is in the moment with the ball. And the joy you see on his very committed and purposeful face tells a beautiful story all business leaders can relate to and learn from.
It Creates and Uses Space
Since watching him play, I learned a very valuable life skill through the game of soccer—create and use space. Create and use space illustrates resilience versus reaction. Now, I am no soccer officiant, but the way I understand the skill of creating and using space is that the players run tightly and intentionally with their marked player, that they create space for plays through pressure. They force opportunity for the ball to play. Using space in soccer requires finding the runner (being present), communication (listening, talking, observing) and giving support for using the space. It requires thought, purpose and intentional, thoughtful action (you can run in different directions and change or adapt as you need to).
Resilience Responds and Rebounds
Try it—create and use your space instead of reacting! Try it in how you care for yourself and others. How you respond to turbulent times, chaos and the demands of your world in business and in personal life. Creating and using space can be applied not only to and with other people, but in today’s business climate. Run and move, don’t react. Run and move so close to the obstacle, challenge or celebration that you create space for opportunity, for reflection, or thinking through new ideas. Create space to choose an action, a way to respond and rebound, rather than a reaction to the situation.
Reaction over time can become a condition and it is falsely rewarding. It becomes a behavior that we just do, because there is an expectation with no room for space. An environment like this is not resilient, it is a condition of other people’s expectation that we respond instantly, react and do and then do and do and do…. until productivity and thoughtfulness is secondary to the visceral response of reaction.
It’s good to give yourself and your staff space – breathe, think, listen, ask questions and create space for opportunity. Let space make room for the next right move, to respond in the right ways and ultimately rebound when it’s needed most!
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This post was written by Melissa Master-Holder, Talent, OD, Design and Leadership Training Consultant Melissa has VP level training and development, organizational development and design thinking experience from major companies. Her ability to create vision, stimulate rich, meaningful collaboration and design compelling strategy makes her a much sought after partner in large scale organizational change efforts and cultural transformation.