The Space between Stimulus and Response.

Gandalf, Yoda and Dumbledore!

Measured in Units of Time!

Everyday life throws a lot of situations at us.

  • Someone cuts in front of you in traffic, tailgates on the highway or zooms past while walking in your neighborhood.
  • Spouse needs you while you are deep in work.
  • Kids keep interrupting your calls or work flow.
  • Rude comments on Twitter.
  • Customers emailing or messaging you.
  • Co-workers needing your help while you are in flow.
  • Boss changes priorities on you.
  • Stakeholders interrupting you on something supposedly urgent in their context.

How many times have you responded in the following ways?

  • Shoot an angry message in email or other means back to your co-worker, customer or stakeholder.
  • Shrunk back, taken it badly, or been passive aggressive with your boss or stakeholder.
  • Yell or shout back at your family or friends.
  • Fire back comments on Social Media.

Guaranteed, it feels good and satisfying immediately, like you won something.
Pretty soon after, it wears off and you get the worst feeling there is… regret!


Well, each of these situations, are opportunities to practice your response.
Why? Because, that’s the only thing in your control!

Remember, you are not alone and the only person facing such situations. People in the history of the world before you have faced it and those after you will face it as well!

Let’s draw inspiration from Great People who spend a lot of time in the space between Stimulus and Response.

Fiction

  • Yoda, from Star Wars.
  • Albus Dumbledore, from Harry Potter.
  • Gandalf, from The Lord of the Rings.

An extreme fictional example is Treebeard from The Lord of the Rings, also known as Fangorn, was the oldest of the  Ents left  in  Middle-earth , an ancient tree-like being who was a “shepherd of trees”.


The character is a caricature for folks who are extremely thoughtful in their words and actions, taking their time to respond thoroughly.

Reality

  • Mahatma Gandhi
  • MLK Jr.
  • Nelson Mandela
  • Dalai Lama
  • Desmond Tutu
  • Marcus Aurelius

Situations to respond immediately on stimuli.

It works really well during times of real, physical danger. Like the following example situations.

  • Your kids, pets, family member or any living being in real physical danger, like crossing the road.
  • You, your family or pets could be in a physically precarious or vulnerable situation.
    The threats of real physical danger is when our lizard brain needs to kick-into-high-gear and save the day for ourselves and others around us.

All other situations.

Any conversation or situation in Life and Work, take your time to respond.
On stimulus, control your impulses, slow it down, think, meditate, be thoughtful, expand the space between the stimulus and your response; then respond.
Respond with kindness and humanity. Think how it looks from a birds-eye view. Think how it looks from the other side, if you were receiving the response.

Here are some some quotes from Yoda, to Feel the Force within.

Control, control, you must learn control!
To answer power with power, the Jedi way this is not. In this war, a danger there is, of losing who we are.
Put a shield on my saber I must.

Kindness is always the right response. Love. Never serve revenge or lash back.


Practical Tips

Practice the following daily. Break the day chain, you must not!

Meditate

  • 5-15 mins in 5 min intervals to start with.
  • Take them before every meal.

Yoga

  • Tons of YouTube channels for getting started.

Walk

  • 20mins a day, at a minimum.
  • When stressed, take a walk.

Exercise

  • Any kind. Push-ups are good.
  • Play some dance music.

Food

  • Be aware of your portions.
  • Eat slow.
  • Save for later.
  • Plan tea or coffee at the end, to leave space in your stomach.

Write it down

  • Grab a pen and paper or notebook.
  • Get some nice gear to motivate yourself.
  • Write down your response. This slows you down and you can see what it looks like.

Remember, once your response is out in the World, you cannot take it back!
Take your time to respond in Kind!

May the Force be with You!

Best!

/Srini @ RoverHead/

Thirumalaa Srinivas

Thirumalaa Srinivas