Every day, every hour and every minute serves up an opportunity for you to decide how to respond to a particular situation. The situation may be the hunt for misplaced car-keys when you’re already running late for your first meeting of the day, it may be a cranky person who takes your order at Starbucks in the morning, it may be big changes at work or in your career or it may even be personal health challenges. Regardless, the fact remains that each day presents you with literally hundreds of situations at you that give you an opportunity to respond positively or negatively – it’s simply up to you.
When things come flying at you throughout the day (as they always will) here are five points to ponder before you decide how to react:
- Is the sky in fact falling? Sometimes your initial reaction to a situation is “it doesn’t get any worse than this!” but really, is that the case? Often if you give a situation a chance to settle in, you find that not only is it not negative, it more than likely has many positive outcomes as well. If you are caught off guard by something that was thrown your way, give it some time (or even sleep on it) before you react. Don’t be the person to jump to negative conclusions and overreact – instead always try to be the optimist!
- You’re in control. Although you may not have the opportunity to shape or control the situation itself, you are completely in control of how you react to the situation. You can take something that truly may be negative, look for the positives in it, and turn it around. You ultimately control how the situation plays out by the way you respond to it, so keep it positive!
- Your character will often be judged on your reaction to the situation. Anyone can be a ‘hero’ during the good times, leading people to celebrations and victory dances. However, a true leader will be able to shine during the tough situations by being authentic and gaining trust by showing their true character. Make sure when people get a glimpse in to your true character, it’s a side of you that you want to be seen.
- Leaders set the tone. In times of challenge, people look around to see how the leaders are reacting. If you’ve ever been on a flight with extreme turbulence, I don’t know about you but I always look at the flight attendants. If they are calm, cool and collected I take a deep breath and relax. However, if they look frazzled and panicked, I get anxious and wonder if I should be in panic mode as well. Keep in mind whether it’s your team, your family, friends or even your spouse, you often have the ability to set the tone for how others react to a particular situation so make sure you’re setting the right tone!
- You always have a choice. One of the great leaders I have the privilege of working with has a saying that comes to mind regularly for me, and that is “you always have a choice”. The more I ponder it, the more interesting that phrase becomes. If you think about what kinds of situations people all around the world are faced with every day, there are actually millions of people who find themselves in situations they have no control over. They don’t get to choose whether or not they work, what they will eat or where their next vacation is – their decisions are much more life and death than we face in North America. How fortunate are we that we live in an area of the world where we have so many choices in our lives. If a situation really is one you want to change, you have the freedom to do that. If you can’t find a way to feel good or find the positive in a situation, count your blessings that you live in a country where you have a choice and can change the situation.
Next time you’re wondering if the glass is half empty or half full, remember that you are in fact the one that is filling the glass and can decide if it’s full, empty or just plain overflowing.