Respect vs. React: Taking Control

By: Coach J

This article is based on a speech given by Sundar Pichai – Global Head for Google – to read the original speech, click here.

In the speech, Sundar references a time when he saw the patrons of a restaurant he was at ‘freak out’ over a cockroach, a reaction most people would have.  What struck him was not the hysterical reaction of these people, but the calm, steady composure the waiter had when the cockroach landed on him.  Because of this, he asked himself, ‘did the cockroach cause the patrons to act in such a hysterical way?’  Because if it did, why didn’t it cause the same reaction in the waiter?

This made him realize that it wasn’t the cockroach that caused the disturbance, it was the inability of the diners to handle the cockroach that disturbed them.  The waiter had the ability to handle the disturbance, and therefore did not react in the same way as the others.

In life, it is not the problems that cause the chaos – it is our reactions to the problems that cause the chaos. 

Rather than reacting, we need to start responding

We need to be more conscious in our day to day lives to allow us to not self-destruct because of a traffic jam or argument with a spouse or co-worker.

If you want to learn to respond instead of react, take note of how you’re feeling physically. If you’re experiencing signs of stress and upset (nervous stomach, feeling jittery, headache, stomach ache, irritability) take a moment to breathe deeply and center yourself. Work out, go for a run or take a hot bath. Distract yourself for a while. Stress floods your body with hormones that prepare you to react, not respond. Moving your body or focusing your mind on something else readjusts your brain chemistry. 

Give yourself permission to deal with problems when *you* are ready – not when fight-or-flight hormones says you should.

Here are the facts:  you will experience many different levels of ‘shitty-ness’ in your life – it is inevitable – negative things will happen to you.  You do not have a choice in whether or not these moments occur – but you do have a choice in how you respond to them.  You have a choice in how they affect you for that moment or day or even the coming days and years. 

If you want to spend more of your life happy rather than pissed off, I recommend you become more conscious in how you respond to the things that happen to you – good or bad!