So what does that mean? “A reaction.” Probably not something good!
But imagine on your second visit, the doctor says, “you are responding to the medication.” What does that mean? Probably something good!
Every day we have the opportunity to “react” or “respond” to other people, situations or our environment around us. What is the difference?
To “react” is to act before thinking, to come out of emotion. To “respond” is to come from a place of purpose with larger goal in mind.
Here’s an example from my trip across the country this week doing three different seminars from Massachusetts to Las Vegas: During one of my presentations, there was a particular doctor sitting on the back row that spent the first hour and a half talking to the doctor next to him in the middle of the presentation. I guess it had not occurred to him that there was anyone else around him who might have been affected! If his neighbors weren’t distracted, I was! By the third hour he raised his hand and asked a question, the intention of which was clearly NOT to learn or gain clarification, but to challenge the speaker - me! He had gone from being a minor distraction to those around him to being a major distraction to the entire group! And so it was decision time…to “react” to his question or “respond.” What to do? What to say?
Well, it would probably take more time and more space to explain what happened next, but I am grateful to another doctor, Dr. Michael Plous who took the time to thoughtfully pull me aside later to remind me of the power of “responding.” With Dr. Plous’s “response” in mind, here is a conclusion for daily consideration and application.
Every day you encounter people and patients who have their own agenda. There is something that is just not right. Something in what they do or say sets off and alarm in your head and your heart that triggers the desire to “react.” But at what cost? Perhaps the better course would be to “respond” based on the purpose of your practice and what you know is best. “React” and you’ll hand them control and you’ll only make things worse. “Respond” and you’ll stay in control of the interaction and your practice. Easy to say. Hard to do!
Once again, I am brought back to one of my favorite quotes that comes from Viktor Frankl from one of my all time favorite books, Man’s Search for Meaning in which he says,
“Everything can be taken from a man but...the last of the human freedoms - to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way."
And so there it is, the last of the human freedoms; to respond instead of react.
If you have never read Man’s Search for Meaning, it may be one of the most meaningful books you have every read. It is on my top 10 list or best reads.
Have a great week as you strive to “respond” and stay free!