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“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.”
Viktor Frankl

As a business owner or leader it is essential to choose your response rather than being on “automatic pilot.”

Some years ago I watched a programme about the secrets of the “Super Rich.”  It focused on the experiences of Richard Block and David Quayle. They co-founded the very successful B & Q chain of do-it-yourself stores in the UK.

After selling their stakes in the company, Block and Quayle, like many entrepreneurs, went on to create other businesses.

Their responses to the challenges they faced post B & Q were very different. At the time of the programme Quayle had recovered from some unsuccessful ventures and generated even more wealth. His response was to take full accountabilityrecognise his errors, and adapt his strategy.

In contrast, Block complained and blamed exogenous factors for the failure of his business. He chose to attribute the problem to the weak economy. He did not acknowledge his poor business decisions and he didn’t learn from his mistakes.

As Viktor Frankl recounted in his book “Man’s Search for Meaning”, we can choose how we respond to any circumstances, even the most harrowing conditions in a concentration camp. If we behave as victims and blame everyone else or external factors we will not survive.

Questions for reflection:

What is your typical response when things go wrong?

Do you acknowledge your role or are you defensive, finding excuses and people to blame?

Do you allow your emotions of anger and frustration to hijack how you engage with others?

Steps you can take:

First build your capacity to choose a different response by becoming more self-aware. We explored several ways to accomplish this in “Business success lies in knowing yourself”

However, this may not be enough to expose your blind spots. You could ask for feedback from colleagues or partner with a coach.

You need to manage your energy and emotions. You can practise the thoughts and actions to shift from victim or destroyer to the more solutions-oriented healer or warrior.

Also changing our responses is not only about our thoughts and emotions.

As Aboodi Shabi explains how we hold and move our bodies also impacts how flexible we are in our responses to different people and challenges.


Caloni, Sylvana. (2015). Emotions and Motivation

Frankl, Viktor E. (1985). Man’s Search for Meaning. US: Simon & Schuster

Shabi, Aboodi. (2016). The Body of Learning

Strozzi-Heckler, Richard. (2007). The Leadership Dojo. US: Frog Ltd

If you would like to explore how to acknowledge and manage your emotions to become a more successful and engaging leader contact me at or call me +44 (0) 20 7226 3611 or +44 (0) 79520 68133


Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • Susana says:

    Great advice! Thanks Sylvana. I think that it is very important to think what we can control of a situation; from time to time we need to stop and reflect: “What can I change about me that will impact the situation?” – sometimes is more that what we think but we have not even considered it!

    I believe we need first to change ourselves before having any result in the environment. This is related to what you mention about being solutions oriented and to the concept of circles of influence. If we give a lot of importance to the environment, we believe we are less capable of what we really are; instead of empowering external factors that we cannot control, we need to focus the attention on what depend on us and become more proactive. If we are proactive, we progress and real change happens.

    • laura robertson says:


      I enjoyed this article and thought it of interest how 1 entrepreneur learned from mistakes whilst the other didn’t. I think there is also a bloody mindedness and conviction of being right that leads to some success when going it alone. I found it of relevance the article triaged both points of view. It is indeed a fine balancing act between being plagued with self-doubt when learning lessons versus taking full acccountability for events. 1 way I have tackled this in the past is to use a SWOT matrix on myself to properly delineate boundaries of what I can control and improve versus what I cannot. The search for excellence continues!…..

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