Reaction: A reverse movement or tendency; an action in a reverse direction or manner.

It slips up on you. Slaps you upside the head. You weren't even thinking about it. Then smack. On your heels reeling. Not sure how to respond.

Think quickly. Give an answer. "Uh, yeah we can get that done for you…by the end of the week? Uh…yeah sure."

You're reacting. And if you are—like a baby needs his mother—this needs to stop.

Story Time

My first day at summer camp (we're talking about the 90's), my mum dropped me off at the front of the building. All of the camp leaders were cheering for the campers as we started our first day. I felt special. They would run up to the car, smiling, cheering, and screaming. They helped us campers out of the car and then ushered us into the exciting world of "camp."

It was terrifying.

As I walk through the front doors, I hear a loud booming voice say, "Attention everyone, a new cancer was discovered this week! The way you can tell if you have it is by checking the palm of your hand for red bumps…"

It was a trap and I knew it. So I kept walking. I got to a flight of stairs leading up to the open hall, but couldn't help but wonder if I had this new hand cancer. I took a very subtle glance at the palm of my hand.

Smack! An older camper smashed my palm squarely into my nose. And then there was blood.

Welcome to summer camp, little Tim.

For the rest of that week, I was constantly reacting. I was afraid that I would be slapped by my own hand again. I was fearful. I hung back by the wall. I didn't know who I could trust.

I hated summer camp from then on. When he hit my hand into my face, I should have punched that kid in the face. I should have spit blood on him. Instead, I was left crying and ashamed.

It's a sad story, but it's funny too. And it taught me about 'reactions'. Reactions to the false cancer story, reactions that people take based on news channels, or neighbors, or the Jones'. The fear that causes us to veer away from "common sense" and embrace the nonsense around us.

I learned to avoid reacting, to side step the Older Insecure Kid that wants to ruin camp for a willing, good-hearted, little, excited new camper.

Here are a few ways you can side step reacting:

  • Don't play to the game of exaggerated pressure (bumps on your hand, an unrealistic deadline, an ungodly request). Customers, bosses, clients, even VC's, will often ask for unreasonable time frames. "We need this video scripted, filmed, edited and packaged in 2 days, and it has to be the best you've every created." No, don't look at the bumps on your hand. Be clear with your beliefs, and know the realistic deliverables in advance.
  • Believe in your common sense. I knew it was a joke. My mom would have told me if there was a new cancer going around. Why would they announce it at this kids camp? Surely I would have noticed bumps on my hand if they were there.
  • Take a second look at who's saying what. If you've just met someone, and they don't have a crown on their head, why give them credibility so quickly? Trust is key, so let it be earned and not lorded. You don't have to believe everyone who is taller then you. Believe the people you trust.

We've all been hit in the face, stabbed in the back, and been forced to react. There are times we ignore common sense, give someone the authority when they don't have it, and give in to tremendous amounts of unrealistic pressure.

When you react, you're taking a step back and waiting for Danger to approach you. Stop stepping back. Begin to train yourself that when Danger approaches, step forward. Face it head on and think it through beforehand. Then be bold with your common sense.

(photo via taylor dawn fortune)