Between Stimulus And Response
“In answer to those questions (from the end of last week’s post), let me share with you the catalytic story of Viktor Frankl.
Frankl was a determinist raised in the tradition of Freudian psychology, which postulates that whatever happens to you as a child shapes your character and personality and basically governs your whole life. The limits and parameters of your life are set, and, basically you can’t do much about it.
Frankl was also a psychiatrist and a Jew. He was imprisoned in the death camps of Nazi Germany, where he experienced things that were so repugnant to our sense of decency that we shudder to even repeat them.
One day, naked and alone in a small room, he began to become aware of what he later called “the last of the human freedoms”—the freedom his Nazi captors could not take away. They could control his entire environment, they could do what they wanted to his body, but Victor Frankl himself was a self-aware being who could look as an observer at his very involvement. His basic identity was intact. He could decide within himself how all of this was going to affect him. Between what happened to him, or the stimulus, and his response to it, was his freedom or power to choose that response.
In the midst of his experiences, Frankl would project himself into different circumstances, such as lecturing to his students after his release from the death camps.”
Between Stimulus And Response, continued next week.
This idea of what happens to children shapes their character and personality, for their whole life, is a fact, but it doesn’t have to be, as Covey explains. We allow it to happen to ourselves. It happened to me until my military experience helped me realize it was time to exercise my freedom to choose, and to choose my response. This set me on a course desiring to help the underdog. The one who works hard, believes in honesty, values and principles, but suffered put-downs, humility and/or lack of recognition, support and fairness. The culprits, typically, were managers who saw themselves as enforcers of rules, policies, and their personal agendas. In addition, there are always managers who will do whatever it takes to “qualify” for a promotion.
True leaders live a life of loneliness, not willing to play games or compromise their values, and they exist to serve others in a meaningful way.
“Leaders are like eagles; they don’t flock; you find them one at a time”