What’s Your Story? Proteus Leadership I Leadership I Programs
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What’s Your Story?

“Respond. Don’t React! It’s a Choice”
- Proteus Mantra

Hi everyone,

Back in 1999 when I started at Proteus, I always remember a powerful piece of advice from the founder Des Penny, 'Respond. Don’t React!'

This is deceptively simple. But not always easy to do.

When negative stuff happens to us, it takes real determination to resist being instantly provoked into reacting badly.

So, here’s how this process unfolds when we find ourselves being triggered and why it’s the stories that we weave (whether we are conscious of them or not), that will ultimately determine whether we - Respond or React?

Stuff – Stories – React (SSR)

  1. Stuff (Happens)
    No individual is immune from suffering. Interactions with people, ranging from slightly annoying to extremely dysfunctional are inevitable. Stuff will continue to happen to you in life.

  3. Stories (We tell ourselves)
    Remember, it’s not the stuff that happens to us, but the story that we construct around those experiences. We all have an internal narrative running in our minds and when bad stuff happens, we create this story in a micro-second! For example, a boss or colleague is being abrupt, rude, and dismissive. That’s the ‘stuff happening’. Then we instantly create a story. And this story can be a bitter reactionary story, or a better reframing story:
    Bitter Story – That person is an absolute jerk – I can’t work here a moment longer. This is a complete disaster!
    Better Story – Well that was unpleasant and totally out of character! I wonder what’s going on in their world. They are usually very courteous. I better check in and call that out.

  5. React (or respond)
    In this sacred moment, we hold the power of choice. We can either impulsively react, or thoughtfully respond.
    With the bitter story, we react. Typically, through silent inaction or hostile aggression – both are ugly options that only worsen the situation.
    With the better story, we are choosing to tame our ‘primitive brain’ by reframing our story - so we can respond. It’s where we ask ourselves “why would a reasonable person be behaving like this. I hope they are okay. We need to talk.”

There is a space

There is a brief but potent ‘space between stuff happening’ to us and our responses. It’s when we take control of our stories in this brief moment. When we have the freedom and agency to choose a better response, at the same time becoming a better person.

So, if we want to stop reacting and start responding to life’s challenging situations, then we need to be mindful of the stories that we tell ourselves. Ensure that we don’t become captive to the ‘victim narrative’ by reframing our stories from being bitter, to being better.

Only then can we transform into proactive action by asking ourselves, “what can we do right now if we really want a better result?”

"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 - Austrian neurologist, psychiatrist, and Holocaust survivor.

Have a great week.




Richard Dore
CEO - Lead Educator

Proteus Leadership


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Some of the toughest roles for modern day leaders is dealing with the ‘difficult people’ situations at work and navigating challenging conversations with their peers and bosses.

Leaders are now expected to meet their targets, engage staff, give regular positive feedback, build great relationships and coach their people to create a high-performance culture.

But leaders are also required to address poor performance and inappropriate behaviours quickly and effectively. All within an environment where people know their rights and expect fair and reasonable treatment.

The good news is that Having Conversations That Matter will create better leaders, build workplace resilience, transform relationships and create clear economic consequences for the organisation.

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