“Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is the power to choose our response.”
Often in my life, I was like water. But not in the way you expect.
Before I tell you about that, let’s see how we all see water first.
We are mostly water. Most of the vegetables we eat are water. Most of Planet Earth is water.
Water is the source of life in this rock we call Earth. Life can be soft as a blow of wind at the beach.
Water can be harder than the toughest rock in the universe when hit at high speed, like those non-newtonian fluids.
What do I have in common with water?
I am a fool. And I share that one common trait with water.
All kids do that at the beach. They dig a trench, and automatically some water will rush into the hole.
Like water, a fool is easily diverted. ANd I have been a fool most of my life.
I often relapse now and then. I am a fool in the recovery process.
This is how “fool” my dash is.
I was far from having a full dash.
These are the two dashes that we have to make full if we don’t want to live like a fool for the rest of our lives.
A. Dash between birth and death
I recently moved to a new place in a city where we settled with my family. We chose the area because it is close to work and the kindergarten is between the two locations.
Yet, there is a caveat. Closer to my place, there is a cemetery. It is on my way to work and wherever I want to go.
Think about the most significant person that matters to you. Think about all their accomplishments and their titles, their possessions.
Now picture their tombstone. All their life is summed up in the most potent resume:
Birthdate — Death date
The “-” is often overlooked. Yet it is the most important thing because it summarises all our life on Planet Earth.
So let me ask you again:
How full is your dash?
This is not the kind of dah that can be fooled with material possessions, fame, or praise from others.
The only way to fill that dash is not through expenses.
The only way to fill that dash is through experiences.
Because at the end, when the dust has settled on your tomb, all people will walk away with the experiences and memories you left them with.
We spend most of our life chasing money, material things, and praise from people. All of those are external things out of our control.
Some of us might get lucky. For the rest, chasing such things will only bring us disappointment and distraction while missing the true meaning of life.
Life’s not about finding happiness at the end, when we retire, when children get older, when we will be millionaires.
Life is all about bringing joy, day in, day out. Life is all about piling up memories and not money.
Memories are the energy that will fill your dash, not money. Experiences are the honey of life that will outlast you.
B. Dash between action and reaction
I have been a fool, easily triggered and easily diverted.
We all have been victims of those people playing on our fundamental needs.
I like to simplify life and the universe. I will share my vision with you.
I call it the “99/1” rule. If you get one thing from this article, make it this rule.
What is the “99/1” rule?
Life is 99% things out of our control and 1% things in our control.
Once I came to that realization, it was my “Eureka” moment. I was both humbled and relieved.
I was humbled because that put my ego in check. Most of the things that I was blessed with were not because of my hard work or within my grasp.
I was fooled to think that only hard work works, especially my hard work. Yet, most of the things in my life happened because of my genetics or sheer luck.
I was relieved because I knew that not everything is because of me. I do not have to constantly feel responsible for everything I see happening around me, and on which I have no control, what so ever.
I see the fatalists out there. Just bear with me.
What, only 1%? What can I do with that? I am doomed.
Well, not quite yet.
If we improve daily, at 1% rate, for one year, we will multiply our output to a whole new level.
If we do the same for one year, there is no compound interest.
1^(365) = 1
Let’s do just 1% every day.
1.01^(365) = 37.8
Now we can see the power of our 1% in our life.
If the dash in our tombstone represents the space between birth and death, the space between stimulus and our response is that 1% dash in our dailies.
That space between action from the outside world and our reaction is one that we have to own.
Either we are a thermometer, always fluctuating based on our surroundings, or we are a thermostat, and we are the one setting the temperature in the room.
Mastering the dash between action and reaction is more challenging than it seems.
Have you met the “10 seconds” rule?
Yes, I know another rule. Yet this one is more a tip than a rule.
This is the trick I use to own my dash between stimulus and response.
This is how it works.
Each time I get a stimulus from my environment, I deliberately count down from 10 to 1 before any response.
This is the “10 seconds” rule in a nutshell. It is a simple yet powerful trick.
Just give it a try and leave a comment below.
In summary, there are the three takeaways from this article:
- Make sure that your life is filled with experiences and not expenses
- Embrace the “99/1” rule.
- Own the “10 seconds” rule.
By applying them to our lives, we will fill our dashes with meaning and always stay in control.
We will live a life full and not like a fool.
Even if we choose a foolish life, it will still be a full life.
How full is your dash life?
How full is your response dash?
How foolish is your life?
Leave a comment below.
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#BIOS #BringInyourOwnSoul #LeadHeartship #Leadership
You can read my previous article on From STEM to STEAM: A journey to finding the soul stone of STEM, and avoiding the rise of soulless machines. (Friendly link)