Learning From the Master - Viktor Frankl
We'll close this session before Q and A with a story of one of the most amazing people I think I've ever heard of and that's Viktor Frankl. So who here is familiar with Viktor or his work Man's Search For Meaning? A few of you, yeah. So he wrote this book I think it's 180 pages. It's a quick read, it's an easy read but it documents his story as he was taken from the Jewish Ghettos and Nazi Germany and taken to Auschwitz where literally his entire life was destroyed in front of his eyes. They burned all of his works. He was writing several books. They killed his wife and daughter and there he is starving in the cold of the Polish winter with no food, no clothing, no security, evil people surrounding him everywhere and he still found a way to reframe that and find hope and love. If he can do that like, no day in my life is ever going to come close to the best day he had in Auschwitz right? It just never will, probably for none of us. I hope not. Yet he still was able to do that. How did ...
he do that? Well he's a genius because what he did 70 years ago was he figured out modern neural science through observation. So he actually labeled something we now can label we talked about earlier so I'll break it down for you. I'll share his most famous quote, I'll break it down for you from the neural science perspective and then I'll share it to you again because it's so powerful. Here's his famous quote: "In between stimulus and response there is a space and in that space you have a choice and in your choice lies your growth and freedom." So let me break it down for you. In between stimulus and response, three hundredths of a second, stimulus. Response, three tenths of a second about 27 hundredths about a third of a second is this space. That space by the way is about as long as it takes to take a deep breath. Why do people tell you to take a deep breath when you're stressed? Because it gives your frontal cortex the moment it needs to catch up and take charge of the elephant. Because if you respond right there chances are good you're having a maladaptive response and so what he's saying is in between stimulus and response we have this space, we need to wait for that space, take the deep breath, make the right choice the adaptive choice, not the maladaptive one and when you do that what you're doing is you are freeing yourself from the unwiley, the crazy connections that the elephants will do to you. So you're freeing yourself from a choice that's forced onto you from this back brain that isn't smart enough to know the right way to respond. In between stimulus and response there is a space and in that space lies your choice and in your choice lies your growth and freedom. Being free of the rampages of the elephant means a life that is so much more fulfilling, so much less scary, so much... It's so powerful for being a leader in particular. Because if you're reacting poorly, if your elephant is taking charge all the time you are making people angry all the time. You are diminishing them and tearing them down you are not building them up but if you can master this then you become the kind of people people look to when they need a leader, when they need somebody in the time of crisis. I'm going to close this here in a second by sharing one quote from Viktor's book that I just love and then we'll move to Q and A so think of questions. "Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms - to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way." If he can write that in the cold Holocaust of the winter in Germany I think we probably all can respond just a little bit better next time our elephant wants to rile up, take over.