Courage Growth Learning Mindset Psychological Safety

You become what you pay attention to

Don’t react; Respond. That’s how you build and grow in a sustainable way.

You need a breather.

Seriously, when was the last time you consciously paid attention to your breathing?

When was the last time you sat with your breathing and paid full attention to you filling your lungs with air and then releasing the air from your lungs?

Most people get through their day without even once being aware of the fact that they’re breathing.

Some people remain unaware for weeks and months in a row. Of course, they know that they’re breathing; they just never pause and pay attention to it.

They take a breather every now and then, probably because they’re out of breath, but the moment just goes by.

For a long time, I was one of those people. I never really paid attention to the air that systemically went in and out of my body.

Sure, I also had moments I was out of breath during exercising, but that was part of the game.

I never thought anything of it.

Not until I started meditating and breathing became an integral part of my meditation practice. Paying attention to your breath helps you release your thoughts and become aware of the here and now.

But as soon as I was done meditating, I fell right back into my old patterns of getting through my days without paying attention.

Until something started to shift.

After a while, when I would pause and pay attention to my breath, I started to increase during the day.

Instead of reacting immediately to a specific situation, I managed to pause and think about my response. And often, my response is significantly better than what my initial reaction would have been.

Don’t react; respond. 

It doesn’t work consistently, there are still moments that I react too quickly, but it happens much less frequently. 

I’ve trained my mind to pause.

Now, when I know I have a stressful day ahead of me, I build in moments to pause and just breathe. Those little breathers put the day in perspective.

I’ve become more intentional about what I’m doing by paying attention to my breath. 

You become what you pay attention to.

Last week, I wrote a story about Zappos growing fast. Much of that growth was intentional and well planned. The values I spoke about were designed to build a culture that would support fast growth.

Zappos pays attention to its culture. Zappos doesn’t react; it responds.

Many companies don’t take a breather. No time.

They don’t have the reflexes built in to pause and observe what’s happening. They react instead of responding to their context.

Often those reactions are knee-jerking reactions that don’t help the company grow and move forward.

Often those reactions jeopardize the culture and the values. And over time, the company sees its culture deteriorate, and its results worsen.

That’s why it pays off to make time to breathe and observe what’s happening. To think about the proper response.

Your turn: React, or Respond?

Do more of what makes you happy!


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Erikjan Lantink
Business & Leadership Coach

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