How Do You Respond?

The most difficult person you will ever have to deal with is yourself. If you can’t master yourself, then you will be mastered by yourself. When you look at yourself in the mirror, who do you want to see, your worst enemy or your best friend?

You are probably going to read a lot more personal growth, leadership, influence, and development books and articles in your life, and you will find many threads that go through all those books and articles.

1. How We Respond

One of the most important threads that I have found throughout all the books I’ve read and courses I’ve taken is, our ability to decide how we respond.

When I was at school, during my apprenticeship and when I went into my leadership positions in my jobs, if I had known then what I know now about my responses to what has happened to me, my life would be different.

Not that my life is bad now because it isn’t at all. But it would most certainly be different.


I have learned that when something happens to us, whether it is positive or negative, we have a reaction and then following our reaction, we respond. In the middle of our reaction and our response, there is time. During that time, we all can decide how we respond following our reaction.

When I learned this, I changed, and I have been working on myself every day to decide my best responses to all that happens to me.

When I was young, I never knew that I could decide my response following my reaction. In those days if something happened to me, positive or negative, I would react within in a second with my full response.

The time between reaction and response never existed in my mind back then. This kind of reaction runs in my family. I am from Liverpool in the UK, so there were many other families who react/respond in the same way.

What happens to us in our lives, we cannot always control. But we can always control how we respond to what happens to us. We all have that ability to use the time between reaction and response to make the right decision and respond in the right way. It is a short amount of time, but we can all use it.

2. We All Have A Reaction

Everybody has a reaction to everything that happens to them, and everybody has a response following that reaction. People who have a short temper, or reactive people respond to things that happen to them because of how they feel at that time, like I did when I was younger.

They don’t use the time between reaction and response to decide. People who are often calm, or proactive people respond to things that happen to them because of what they value in their lives.

Here is an example from my days of being a teenager.

I was 17 years old, and I had been in my engineering apprenticeship for about a year. After a year, we were allowed to work overtime and earn some extra money, and even work weekends if we wanted to. But it wasn’t always down to me.

Many times, I had something planned for my weekend with my friends but on a Friday afternoon, my boss would come over to me and tell me that I needed to work at the weekend. When he walked away, I could feel the anger brewing up inside myself and I would need to take a time out to calm myself down.

My reaction and my response to what I had been told was instant anger. I didn’t know then that there was a period between my reaction and my response to decide a different response. Before deciding on our response, we need to decide to take that time to consciously think how we are going to respond.

In those days I didn’t give it a moment thought, I just allowed my response to be anger. Things are different now that I am a lot older.

But when I was 17 years old, I responded to things instantly and it was always on how I felt at the time. How I felt was, I don’t want to work this weekend because I had already made plans with my friends.

These feelings brought many thoughts to my mind; “My boss doesn’t know what he’s doing.” “I hate working for this company.” “Why is everything last minute?” “They don’t care about me at all.” These kinds of thoughts would be there all weekend.

Back then when I was a teenager, because of how I felt and how I reacted, I was one of those people who would do just enough to get the job done. I would be a clock watcher and as soon as the day finished, I would be first out the door to get on the bus and home.

3. Making The Right Changes

I am not like that anymore because I made changes within myself when I was older. If you make some changes now, you can create the best life you can for yourself and help others to do the same.

If you apply and practice the principles, you are learning from my articles then your results will be different. If you want things to be different in your life right now and in the future, then you need to do things differently.

How you think right now about your life, and what you think about your future will change if you are willing to make changes.

If you think what I am describing to you in this article is different to how you are now and how you thought about your future, then positive things are going to happen if you take advantage of what you are reading.

You can help your friends and family to do the same if you share what you are learning with them.

We already know that if we want to improve our results and our lives, then we must improve ourselves first, don’t we? It’s all common sense, isn’t it? Of course, it is, but if we want to make this happen then we must apply uncommon sense, right?

Think about yourself right now, and your friends and family. Are you a reactive person, and do you know others who are reactive too? People who are reactive don’t understand that the only thing that makes them get angry in life is themselves.

When they become angry, they have made the decision to become angry. Nobody else can make a person become angry. So, when you hear somebody say “So and so makes me angry all the time,” don’t believe it because they are lying. They have made the decision to become angry all on their own.

Back when I was told to do the overtime over the weekend, and after what I have learned since then, how would I behave now?

Every day I would come to work with a positive attitude. The only person who made me take the engineering apprenticeship was myself, nobody else.

4. Helping Yourself

The only person who made me wake up and take the bus to work was myself. I know how the company works and how my boss is etc. But everything I am doing is all down to me, so I would be positive about it.


My boss would be my most important customer, so how would my behaviour impact him? How would my behaviour impact my future at the company? These are questions I would always ask myself during the time between my reaction and my response.

The relationship between myself and my boss wasn’t always the best, so I would be working my hardest to try and improve that. I am a role model for others in the company and they are watching what I do, so I must be always leading them by example.

There are also other people who are my word-of-mouth advertisers and if they see me getting angry or behaving badly, then they would spread that information which would make me look bad with my colleagues, peers and other bosses.

So, I must do my best to be my best self every day and use the time between my reaction and my response to things to make the right decision and respond positively.

The more difficult things you accomplish, your life will become easier. The easier things you accomplish, your life becomes difficult.

I welcome hearing how this post has influenced the way you think, the way you lead, or the results you have achieved because of what you’ve learned in it. Please feel free to share your thoughts with me by commenting below.

Check out my other articles by Clicking HERE

All the best,

Tom (LeadGrowInfluence)

6 thoughts on “How Do You Respond?

  1. Tom,

    Excellent article to the Limitless Mindset. I will be sure to download Chapter 1 now.

    You are absolutely correct when you say, “What happens to us in our lives, we cannot always control.”, but we as individuals can make positive choices in our daily lives to ensure a positive or more promising outcome to the situation.

    I know I personally could benefit from this advice in my daily life. Seems like everyday a new challenge is presented and I have to fight the mini personal battles. Somehow, I always pull through. I have never given a thought about searching for a solution until now.

    I thank you for writing this article, and wish you well on your future books. I know they will help many!


    1. Hi Michael,

      Thank you for your comment, and I hope you enjoy reading Chapter 1 of A Limitless Mindset.

      It is my pleasure to write this article and I am so pleased that it resonated with you. Keep making good decisions for yourself and especially when they have an impact on others.

      All the best,


  2. Many great insights in this article, Tom. The ability to respond appropriately instead of reacting automatically is essential to good communication and positive relationships in all areas of our lives. We react based on past experiences and those reactions are not always ideal. Thanks for sharing all these great thoughts and ideas to make the right changes. Best, Joseph

    1. Hi Joseph,

      I appreciate you sharing your thoughts on my article, means the world.

      Keep responding and reacting to situations in your life in the best way you can, and use that time in between to the best of your ability.

      All the best,


  3. This is a fascinating, easy read that is also thought-provoking. The format is pleasing to the eye and senses.

    Good job.

    1. Hi Janice,

      Thank you for your comment, I’m really pleased that this article resonated with you.

      All the best,


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