React vs. Respond

“It’s like the difference between the doctor saying you’re reacting to the medication, or that you’re responding to the medication.”

–     Zig Ziglar, as paraphrased by Kevin Eikenberry, in his post on “responding vs. reacting” 

It’s a choice we have multiple times every day.

Something happens and we can either react or respond.  (See Eikenberry’s blog link for more!)

Much of our conditioning leads us to want  — heck, maybe even need  — to react.  For me, it was a grandfather who was one reactionary dude, and he passed that gene along to his daughter, who happened to be my mom.  (Disclaimer:  Both were exceptional people of impeccable character and good intention.  They were just wired to, well, to react…but it really is a decision, no matter how we’re wired.  Now, where was I?  Oh, yeah, conditioning – where the “wiring” comes from…)

For most of us, it’s an education system that focuses on grades at the expense of learning.

For all of us, it’s a media dominated culture that rewards and glorifies reacting.  Reactionism.  (I just made that word up.  Isn’t having a blog cool?)

Difference makers don’t react.  They respond.

Someone makes a mistake.  Do you punish or do you coach?

Someone quits.  Do you counter-offer or do you seek to understand and do a better job of hiring – and leading – the next time around?

Sales slow down.  Do you fire everyone or do you get to root cause and fix it?

You make a mistake.  Do you blame, cover and hide, or do you own it and learn from it and make it better out of the opportunity?

It’s a choice we have multiple times every day.  Something happens and we can either react or respond.

Difference makers respond.


  1. Godin – worthy post, Steve.

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