When I was a younger human, I found much in my small world that made me angry, and there were times when I allowed that anger to dictate my words or actions. I’m not proud of those moments, and truthfully, I’ve worked hard to reform my thoughts and deeds to make me a servant leader worth my salt. Even so, every day provides me the opportunity to hold myself accountable to the man and leader that I aim to become.
Many years ago, Viktor Frankl, a sage man whose life and writings I admire, penned a statement that in his memoir Man’s Search For Meaning that resonates with me still today. “Between stimulus and response, there is space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
Viktor survived the Holocaust, internment in four concentration camps, including Auschwitz, the loss of his parents, brother, and pregnant wife, while enduring monstrous personal abuse at the hands of the Nazis. If a man who walked in those impossible shoes says there is power in the space between, then that is a concept I can embrace.
On the downside of any adversity – choice remains. Whatever stimulus acts upon you such that your feelings become the driver of your response, the space between is invaluable. Customers who seem irrationally upset about an issue – the choice of how to listen and how to respond endures. Family members, friends, or co-workers who demonstrate heightened emotions – the space between their words and your response is available to you as valuable fertile soil to create an elevated, reasoned, and more loving reply.
I encourage you to seize the space between and allow it to manifest as growth in you.