Written by Katy Goshtasbi

Posted on: April 9, 2018

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I fly regularly.  Most of my experiences on airplanes with other passengers are non-eventful.  However, most recently I was on a Southwest Airlines flight.  There was a middle seat open next to me during the boarding process.  At the very last minute, there was a tap on my shoulder and a woman motioned that she wanted to sit in that middle seat next to me. No words, just motioned.  I thought that was odd, but let it go.

As she climbed in, she put the arm rest between us up and mumbled something about, “I need this up for now”.  I didn’t say anything again.

As I came to sit down, I put the arm rest back down.  At this point she snapped at me and said that she still needed the arm rest up.  I was shocked and retorted back that she didn’t need to be so rude making her request.

In that moment, I wish I had used more kind words and not been so reactive to her way of being.  I could have said nothing or put myself in her position and shown compassion towards her by seeing her perspective more and saying something kinder.

In the Book of Joy, his holiness the Dalai Llama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu make this distinction.  Specifically, in the book, the Dalai Llama comments that there is freedom in responding instead of reacting.

I froze in my shoes when I read that statement.  It really hit me in a very deep place.  It was in that moment that I realized that I do truly have a choice to respond instead of react.  But how is that choice freeing?

You may be thinking that reacting is a response.  I would agree.  However, if you stop and really ponder what he meant by that statement, you will see it is much wiser than it appears to be on first blush.

In brand development and growth, perception is reality.  We perceive your brand as you choose to set out your brand to us, the world at large.  Each moment, we have a choice of how we dictate perception of our brand.  If we stop and choose to respond, instead of reacting to a trigger set into motion by another, ie, a snippy passenger on an airplane, then the result is that OUR brand stays intact and doesn’t suffer.

There is real freedom in choosing to deliberately choose our response.  Maybe it is predicated by 3 deep breaths or a pause- whatever it takes to put you back into self-awareness and the drivers seat to be making a choice and freeing yourself from the negative results that come from just reacting.

Nothing good comes from reacting.  Everything good, including freedom, comes from responding.

What does this mean for you?  Stop and consider:

  • How often are you self-aware of your responses to life?
  • How often are you triggered to react? Does it feel good?
  • How do others view you when you react versus when you choose to be free and respond?
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