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Congratulations!!! You made it to the last day. Hopefully, these last few days have given you a small glimpse into what it takes to develop the skill of self-awareness. You have examined what it feels like to sit in the uncomfortable as you look in the mirror. You might feel a little lighter because you are learning how to take off your armor. You have dipped your toe into the waters of vulnerability. You have considered what trust within the team might look like, especially if you are willing to delegate. And, you have, perhaps, put up some fences around the things that matter to you. We are really, really proud of you and the hard work you have done to become self-aware. Take a moment and give yourself a pat on the back. You definitely deserve it!!

On this final day of our journey, we are going to use one of my favorite quotes of all time to give us a framework upon which we can hang some of the skills we have been working on together this week.

Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.

-Victor Frankl

This quote beautifully outlines what it looks like to manage yourself, another key skill associated with effective influence, not only in your professional life, but in your personal life as well. As we go through the day, we are confronted with all kinds of stimuli. Some are big, some are small, but all elicit a response. You forgot to set your alarm so you are now running late. You look at the radiographs of your favorite client’s golden retriever and see an irregularly shaped spleen that takes up half his abdomen. Someone cuts you off in traffic. Your five year old refuses to put on her shoes as you are getting ready to head out the door for school. You get a past-due notice in the mail. Your lead technician just gave her 2-week notice. You feel a lump in your breast.

Today, we want you to take some time to think about what you do in the space, the space between stimulus and response.

  1. Think about the last few days. Identify a specific stressful scenario where you were absolutely clueless that there is a space between stimulus and response and your response caused damage. Often these are situations that trigger our fight or flight response. We are reactive instead of proactive about our emotions. What is it about the situation that caused you to react? What are the emotions associated with the situation? What might you do to prevent a similar reaction in the future?
  2. Now think about a stressful scenario where you were 100% aware of the space between stimulus and response and your response was positive. By positive, I mean your response was clear and kind. What makes this situation different? Why were you proactive instead of reactive? What skill sets allowed you to allow for the space. How did you decide to respond the way you did?

As with many of the previous blogs in this journey, learning how to manage your responses is a multi-faceted skill that takes time to practice. However, when we start at the very beginning- acknowledging the space between stimulus and response- we can begin to add layers to our self-management skill set that give us control over our responses. After acknowledgement of the space, the next best thing to master is tactical breathing. Breathing well will make you a self-management ninja in 2020.

Betsy Charles

Betsy loves being a veterinary radiologist and trying to make the world a better place. When not reading films, teaching veterinary students, or when she takes a break from trying to make a positive difference for the profession, she enjoys having meaningful and authentic conversation with all who cross her path, developing young entrepreneurs as they pursue their passions, riding her horse Lenny, reading, and hiking with her red heeler, Sadie.


  • Bianca Zaffarano says:

    I was invited to do the deepak chopra 21 day challenge (realizing there is a lot of controversy about him, and his institute, it was still an adventure in self-exploration). I am glad i did it because it dovetailed upon the free class (“science of well-being” that Karen Cornell turned me onto) – and augmented much of what i had started there. Meditation. Self reflection. all extraordinarily helpful during this time of isolation and imposed quiet.
    Interesting time to “retire”, if not truly, but to chart a different course from the one of intense stress in either private practice or academia – both rich with experience bu both rich with different pressures, anxiety, tiers of authority and heavy layers of imposter syndrome. Now I face those in a whole different chapter in life, but equipped in ways I wish I’d explored much earlier on in this wonderful career. I am happy that VLE seems to be exploring some of it for the younger generation, the new standard bearers of our profession. It would be lovely to see less traffic on Not One More Vet. Personal forgiveness and kindness towards understanding or new methods of navigating the nuances that irritate us from individuals who seek our help… would be awesome. THat, precisely, is the “space” to which you refer above.
    sorry, long reply.

  • Erin says:

    Words/text, tone & tenor! The space between stimulusand response! Thanks guys great lessons!

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