An interesting question John asks at the beginning of the chapter, “How will you be defined?” I guess in order to figure out how you respond to defining moments you first need to ask yourself that question.
Once you find that answer, reflect back to situations that put you in a stressful or difficult position. John writes about three ways to determine what a defining moment is;
- Defining moments show us who we really are
- Defining moments declare to others who we are
- Defining moments determine who we will become
Take the time to write down some of your defining moments. Does your defining moment really define you?
Was it a stressful situation, did you keep your cool, or lose it?
Was it an internal defining moment in a life decision, did you take the easy road, or the difficult one?
What did you do during your defining moment? Who was impacted?
Would you do anything different?
Is it the same person you want to be defined as?
When I reflect back to one of my defining moments, I think about the bomb threat I experienced in the Navy. I was standing my first Officer Of the Deck (OOD) watch on the aircraft carrier, USS Abraham Lincoln. I was under training with who I thought was a qualified watch stander. We received a telephone call with the person saying they planted a bomb, it was after work hours so we had to call the Command Duty Officer. To my surprise, neither of these two individuals where capable of staying calm enough to even follow a checklist.
Other moments I can think of is when I needed to confront to senior people in order to express my views of a situation. I was usually in the right because they wanted to deviate from policies, sometimes involving safety.
When do you let ‘ethics creep’ get ahold of you? If you do a small thing the first time, does it lead to something bigger? If you do it for someone else, do they use that to get you to do it again?
I prefer not to explore the dark possibilities of ‘ethics creep.’
I do remember overstepping my bounds, and having to quickly eat humble pie the following day. But everyone needs a big slice of humility once in a while.
In the coming week take some time to reflect on your defining moments. Think about what you would do differently in the future.
Now that you’ve reflected back on your defining moments, you’re better prepared to make the most of your next, “DEFINING MOMENT.”