“Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” – Viktor Franke
Things come at us every day, all day, without exception. We’re stimulated by, presented with challenges and provided the opportunities to respond to these situations and experiences – also without exception. Sometimes it feels like a burden, something we’d rather escape from than tackle. Other times, however, we look forward to jumping in and taking action. There is that critical moment between stimulus and response where we exert our personal power, the power to choose. Inherent in this power of choice is the pathway to growth and freedom.
What often stops us from making certain choices is fear. Yet everyone experiences fear at one point or another. Fear can prevent growth and serves as a huge roadblock for anyone trying to make progress toward goals. Overcoming fear requires first an acknowledgement that it exists and asserting that it has no power over our decisions and actions. We can, in fact, rob fear of its ability to control us. This is also a conscious decision we make in how to respond to the stimulus of fear. And in this there is great opportunity for growth and freedom.
It’s also wise to recognize that how we make choices will vary from one situation or circumstance to another. Some are easier to arrive at, while others require careful thought, crafting a workable plan and laying out a timetable. Yet even this is a decision, a choice that we make in response to the stimulus – the problem, issue, project, task, endeavor or challenge. At the root of everything we do lies our power of choice. This is both immensely gratifying and a bit scary. After all, what if we make the wrong choice, we might worry?
Keep in mind that some of the greatest lessons – indeed, some of the world’s greatest success stories – result from first making the seemingly wrong choice. Inventors, artists, businessmen and women, people in every walk of life have profited from turning a bad or misguided or ill-timed choice into something more positive, worthwhile and lasting.
Why, then, does it feel so queasy to make some choices instead of others? It’s often the case that necessary choices involve moving beyond a comfort zone, branching into unfamiliar territory and trying something new. That’s enough in itself to cause some unease. Turn that discomfort, that sense of indecision into positive forward momentum. Tell yourself that you will make the best and most informed choice and will put forth all your effort into making this a successful choice. Even if you have to choose between options that appear to be bad, with careful thought and planning you can arrive at the least disruptive and most workable decision – for the time being. Remember that things change and you may have another opportunity to take more constructive action at a later date.
Before making any choices, stop, reflect, weigh and consider. Then make your choice accordingly. In this way you are acting with integrity, being true to yourself and your values, exercising your personal power of choice and clearing the path for growth and freedom.