Many of us get overwhelmed with life from time to time. We all have so many things that we are responsible for on a daily basis. Whether it is building a relationship with a loved one, paying bills or balancing our budget, life can be challenging at times. I have discovered that when we get overwhelmed with our responsibilities, rather than being responsive to the circumstances of life, we sometimes begin to be reactive, and that is where trouble begins. When we become reactive, we often say or do things that we later regret. It is not healthy to live in a reactive mode. However, when we are responsive rather than reactive, we give ourselves a little more time and margin in the circumstances of life. We can take the necessary steps to plan ahead so as not to end up hurting another person or regretting our own actions.
Stop and think for a moment. When do you get the most stressed in your own personal life? Isn’t it when you are running out of time or options in a particular situation or set of circumstances? When your margin is gone your stress level begins! When that happens, we no longer have the ability to use our best judgment or thinking in order to be responsive in a healthy way. We begin to have a “knee-jerk” reaction and behave in a reactive way. And, that is not a very good thing for anyone involved.
Years ago, when I first started my business, I was having a conversation with a friend of mine. He was much older and wiser in business and was doing all that he could to help me get started. As we talked, he said to me, “Your office is not very responsive.” I asked what he meant. He told me that he had to call several times to get the answer to one simple question and that he often felt he got the run-around. That really disturbed me. I was not aware of that situation. But, as I said, that was almost 25 years ago when I was first trying to get my business up and running and knew very little about business myself. He told me that one of the most important things a business can do is to be responsive. He said when you communicate clearly and in a timely fashion, it helps people feel better about their relationship with you, not only in business, but on a personal level as well. He said if you are not responsive in your business dealings, you will soon become reactive. Those reactions may then necessitate damage control, which requires more time, effort, and energy and often creates unnecessary stress.
Even though the conversation was a little painful at the time, it was very much needed. I certainly received what he said to me because he was a trusted friend. I had a good talk with my staff about it later and everyone agreed that we could do better. That is what I am talking about. That is what it means to be responsive and not reactive.
I do not know what circumstances or situations you are facing in your own life or business, but I can assure you that putting things off until the last minute and waiting until the water level is very close to your nose is not wise and will not offer you the opportunity to be responsive. You will become reactive because your choices are limited.
Although I have not mastered this principle, yet I certainly make it part of my daily life. I have discovered that, if I stay ahead of things that are coming up and are prepared, it gives me many more options, especially when there are issues that need to be adjusted or modified. It is so much better to have a little bit of “breathing room” in order to be responsive than it is to be out of oxygen and forced to be reactive in trying to find a last minute solution.
Look into the way you do life yourself, whether it is in your school work, business relationship or family life. Let me encourage you to think in terms of planning ahead and being more responsive in every area. It certainly creates a different dynamic in everything you do, and in the end, gives you more peace of mind. Isn’t that an important part of life?
Tip: Be responsive, not reactive!
Have a great week! God bless you!
Dr. Robert A. Rohm