Between stimulus and response, there is a space.
In that space lies our freedom and our power to choose our response.
In our response lies our growth and our happiness. Rollo May
Over the past few years, as I’ve done presentations to various groups about organizational dynamics, I’ve used Jack Canfield‘s formula for 100% responsibility, E+R=O. I tell my audiences that this is the ONLY equation you’ll ever see me use! More complicated ones are above my pay grade. The formula’s meaning is applicable to all of us and in many situations. Any Event (E) we’re part of or that we observe generates a Response (R) within us. How we respond is the only variable in the formula and our only real point of power in the Outcome (O).
In the rearview mirror I saw the car approaching, fast. I was in the outer lane and the inner lane was busy with cars slowing for a turn. There was no where else for this fool to go but right up on my bumper. Now this is not at all abnormal in our traffic today, as we all have experienced, and it is dangerous in many ways. The obvious danger is a collision with damage and perhaps death. The more subtle and equally important danger is my reaction.
In the past, as a younger, stronger and faster man, my typical reaction to an event such as this was an outburst of anger, punctuated by various hand and finger signs befitting the IQ of the idiot on my tail. Nowadays, however, I’ve had to resist those reactions and pay attention to what’s in front of me and when I can get out of his way. I’ve been forced to pause between the stimulus and my response to it in order to retain my freedom.
Viktor Frankl, who survived Nazi death camps, put it this way: It is in the ability to pause between stimulus and response and choose that real freedom lies.