This morning, I jumped in my car on my way to work, opened up a coffeeshop app on my phone to preorder a drink, and learned that I had “earned” a free cup of coffee.
My attitude was great at that moment.
Fast forward an hour later, and I’m getting ready for a presentation. Every technology glitch that could happen was happening. Despite testing the system yesterday, we were experiencing audio and video problems. People were scurrying about the room, troubleshooting the issues, and trying to get the audio and video to work. I was glancing at the clock on the wall as the presentation start time quickly approached.
My attitude was great at that moment.
You might wonder how I could have a great attitude in both instances.
In the first situation, the answer is obvious. Who wouldn’t be pleased to get a free beverage? Even if you had to buy ten coffees to get the one free one, it still feels like a win in the moment.
The second situation is a bit less obvious, especially since things were quickly devolving in the front of the room. My attitude wasn’t a sign of disinterest in the problem. I earnestly wanted to see it fixed. My attitude stemmed from the realization that the best thing I could do at the moment was to focus on what I could control. I couldn’t fix the technology problems. Others more skilled than me were addressing the issues. However, I could control where I put my mind in the moment and the attitude I chose to embrace as I prepared to start my presentation.
In The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen R. Covey wrote that there is a space between stimulus and response, and it’s in that space that we find our freedom. We don’t merely have to react to a stimulus. We can choose what we do.
Consider situations where you have reacted in ways that you later regret. What different choices could you have made at that moment? How could things have turned out differently as a result of those choices?
Here are three actions you can take to move from reacting to situations to choosing your response:
- Be Present. Choose to be grounded in the present moment. Listen, ask questions, explore. Don’t merely react. When we aren’t present, we tend to simply respond without thinking.
- Be Mindful. Put things in context. Consider what is truly important beyond the moment. Ask yourself if an issue matters in the long-run or if it is merely distracting or frustrating at the moment.
- Be Selective. Recognize that you always have choices. You can choose to have a great attitude. You can choose a different behavior. You can be and should be selective.
I created this week’s video and tool to help you to make better choices. In the video, I share how I responded to the coffee and the technology situation. It’s perfect for watching on your own or sharing with your team as you start a conversation about attitude and behaviors. The accompanying tool provides a brief reminder of the three actions: 1) Be Present, 2) Be Mindful, and 3) Be Selective. I encourage you to print, post, and share the tool to help yourself and others on your team.
In this week’s episode of the Leadership Lab podcast, I sit down with Jacqueline Carter to talk about her new book, Compassionate Leadership: How to Do Hard Things in a Human Way. Jacqueline is an International Partner and the North American Director for Potential Project – a global leadership and organizational development company focused on creating a more human world of work. We have a great conversation about the innate potential of leaders and teams to enhance performance, resilience, and creativity through better understanding and managing the mind.
Patrick Leddin, PhD is a speaker, global leadership consultant, and The Wall Street Journal bestselling author of The Five-Week Leadership Challenge. Patrick is an Associate Professor at Vanderbilt University with a thriving leadership blog and podcast, and 25-years of leadership experience. He offers an unparalleled mix of academic rigor and real-world experience.