Session five of The Ivy House Award focuses on the equation Event + Behaviour = Result.
Believe it or not, we have the ability to choose our behaviour and how we respond to each event that occurs throughout our lives. This enables us a degree of control over the ultimate outcome. This outcome seems out of our control, something inevitable, unpredictable and unknown, but this isn’t the case. Our behaviour, in response to an event, influences the outcome.
The general free will versus determinism debate is beyond the scope of this blog, but what I believe to be true since doing The Ivy House Award, is that we have the amazing ability to choose our behaviour in response to any given event. Often this ability goes unnoticed or is obscured by our long-held habits and excuses. The Ivy House Award encourages us to be accountable for our actions, by recognising that our behaviour is fully within our control.
It’s common for us to consider many of our behaviours innate, automatic or instinctive. When we behave seemingly instinctively, we see ourselves as having only one option of how to act. We THINK we only have one option, but this thinking is preventing us from seeing alternatives. As Jack Pransky says, “Our only limitation is what we see with our thinking in the moment”. Once we are able to see that we are in control, our options become countless.
Say you’ve been brought up in a family where it’s very common to raise voices and have heated arguments. Where people speak and tell far more than they listen and understand others. You frequently partake in this behaviour, but as you get older there are more and more times where you use this behaviour outside of your family, and you notice it doesn’t quite have the same reception. In a work environment, you’re viewed as pushy, dictatorial and closed-minded. In a romantic relationship, you’re argumentative and confrontational. You find it tough because you don’t feel you have a choice about behaving differently. After all, the behaviours are so ingrained in you that they are impossible to shift; they are instinctive and automatic. Do you have a choice? It doesn’t seem like it. But although it might not seem like it, you absolutely choose this behaviour each time you do it. So, what would happen if you began making different choices?
During sixth-form we experience many challenges which all have the ability to detrimentally affect our lives if we choose unhelpful behaviours. At this critical time, session five of The Ivy House Award can show us how to take control of our behaviours, and to seize the opportunity for better outcomes, whatever life may throw at us.
Recognising that the behaviour we choose directly affects the outcome of events is a huge leap, as we move from blaming others to taking full responsibility. This can be overwhelming. The first step is the hardest but will reap the greatest rewards in the future. That is, recognising that we choose our behaviour. Once we recognise this, we have the degree of awareness to be able to notice what behaviours we choose without thinking. Then, with time and perseverance, we can begin to work on choosing more helpful behaviours. Time can move very quickly, especially when we are put in a difficult situation, as these are where our decisions can feel automatic and instinctive. But no matter what you’ve told yourself in the past, you always have the time to stop for a moment, evaluate the situation and your options, and then make the best choice for you. Literally stop in your tracks and take a deep breath. In time, this will become easier, but for now it’s important to do your very best to be kind to yourself while you’re growing and developing your awareness of your unhelpful behaviours, so that helpful behaviours come more easily.
The Award encourages us to seek valuable feedback from those around us, so we are able to have the whole picture when looking at our behaviours and the impacts they have. The Ivy House Award will guide sixth-form students on the journey to recognising their control over their behaviour, and help them to make better, more helpful decisions for them in their pursuit of an extraordinary life.