Mindset Kata – How to choose to respond not just react


Mindset Kata – How to choose to respond not just react

It is all about control. We cannot control what the world throws at us, but we can control our reactions.

Famously Viktor Frankl wrote about this in his book, Man’s Search for Meaning, a powerful telling of how he survived in a Nazi concentration camp by doing just that; controlling his reaction to what happened. Daily.

I believe that through a mental Kata practice we can move past controlling a reaction to choosing a response. Responding gives us an increased sense of possessing a measure of control over our lives. Reacting, even if controlled, still has us ceding control to the external.

I am not saying that we can do some ‘woo-woo’ thing and control what happens to us, but we can begin to mentally practise how we will react when things, good or bad, happen.

Choose to respond not just react.

In Japanese martial arts, a Kata is a collected series of principles bound into movements that are regularly practised to develop skill, an understanding of underlying concepts and the ability to react appropriately to external stimulus. Most formalised martial arts have similar movement sets (Hyung in Tae Kwon Do, Chuan or Tao Lu in Gong Fu / Wu Shu for example).

The idea is that the movements are practised slowly until they become smooth in execution and once smooth then they can be done fast. ‘Slow is Smooth; Smooth is Fast’. Without practising Kata, it is impossible to move from mere reaction to relevant response.

This move from reaction to response is an important skill for anyone to possess as it ups your own ‘mental game’ in business and life itself. Having it confers a greater feeling of control over our day to day lives.

The Mindset Kata:

For example, something happens, and it has bad consequences for your business.

Pause – Instead of reacting immediately, you pause; by deliberately taking a deep belly breath (Six is the tested number to reduce stress if it is really bad).

Examine – Next ask yourself, “What is the effect of this situation on my business and can I lessen this impact? Ignore it? Remove it? Or just endure it?

Determine your best result – Next you examine what your immediate reaction was going to be and ask yourself, “Will this reaction improve or worsen the situation? Is there another way I can respond that will bring about a better result?” This will give you options.

Choose –Choose your response (I am angry, but I will not let the anger out; instead I will work as calmly as possible to lessen the impact that this situation will have on my business by doing ‘X’).

Execute – Finally implement your chosen response.

The process above takes longer to read than to execute in real time once you have practised.

The Practise – This is simple; you play ‘What if?’. You ask yourself, “What if ‘X’ happened? How will I choose to respond?” Take the pause, do the breath (or breaths) and run through the process.

Begin with wholly imaginary situations, then move to real but low to non-stressful, non-threatening impacts. Remember, ‘Slow is Smooth; Smooth is Fast’. Safely practise here a while. Then run the process on real situations that happened in the past. Situations where you feel you responded positively instead of just reacting and it had a positive effect. Examine what you felt, how and why you responded instead of reacting.

Then repeat for more negative situations from the past where your reaction did not improve or perhaps worsened the outcome. Go through this process as often as you can in daily life. Start with one or two practises a day then increase until you process and decide on responses smoothly. And at speed.

We can control how we respond to what the world throws at us. Response affects outcomes. It is in this acceptance that our response to stimuli determines our outcomes that true power lies. The concept is simple, its practise likely never-ending, but its benefits are huge.

Give it a try, and you’ll be a Black Belt in no time.

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