What is the Difference Between Creating and Reacting?

by | Jun 25, 2019

They are both an attempt to deal with the natural chaos and confusion that come with running a business.  However, one of these approaches is infinitely more powerful than the other to achieve the exceptional results you want for your business.

Isn’t it fascinating that the words ‘creating’ (or ‘creation’) and ‘reacting’ (‘reaction’) are made up of the exact same letters?  The difference is where you place the letter ‘c’. If you want to create you must ‘C’ (see) something you want so clearly and bring it to the forefront of everything else.  When you are in the mode of reacting, the ‘c’ (what you see) gets lost in the middle of everything else.

Now, you may be thinking to yourself, “That’s a ‘cute’ little way of playing with a couple of words.”  However, whether or not you like my observations about the words ‘creating’ and ‘reacting’, the outcomes they produce in a business are vastly different.

Show me a business owner who enrolls a team of great people in painting a clear picture of the future and then aligns the use of time, energy, and resources to accomplish it, and I will show you a successful leader of a growing business that is beneficial to all who associate with it.

Conversely, show me a business owner who spends his or her time reacting to the whirlwind of their business day in and day out, week in and week out, and I will show you a business owner that is often on the verge of burning out and a business that is, at best, plateaued in its growth and not very exciting.

Unfortunately, most of us choose to maintain a position of reacting.  We use time management techniques, clever process and amazing apps to get really good at managing everything coming at us in the most efficient way possible.  But reacting will only ever allow us to optimize what is. It doesn’t allow us to create something new.

It’s really no surprise that we are prone to reacting when you consider that our most basic human instincts are aimed at surviving.  We come across potentially harmful stimulus in our environment and we react to maximize our chances of surviving.

If you add to that the fact that most of us are brought up in an education system that is mostly about reacting to assignments and tests coming at us, not declaring our future destination and carving a path to it.  It is no wonder we have been well-conditioned to live in a near constant state of reaction.

I think Maslow would agree that a move up his hierarchy from physiological and security needs to self-actualization could be accurately characterized as a shift from motivators that are more reaction in nature to ones that are more creation in nature.

In reality, none of us consciously chooses to be in reaction mode.  It seems to be a natural law of business that we will spend our time reacting to everything going on if we don’t focus on creating intentionally.

So, for those who want to spend more time creating and less time reacting, how is it done?

Here are the three most important things you can do to turn your business into an act of creation:


Get really clear on your Vision, which is made up of your Purpose, your Values and your Mission. (see ‘Your #1 Responsibility as a Leader’)

  • Purpose is the ‘Why’ of your business.  What is the meaning of your business or the impact it has on the world?  Why does your business deserve to have life? Your Purpose is never accomplished and acts as the north star for your business.  As an example, our Purpose is to help elite entrepreneurs grow meaningful businesses.
  • Values are the ‘How’ (or the ‘Who’).  They are the statements that represent “how we do things around here” or “our way of being”.  They are behavioral, and you should hire, lead and fire to the Values of your company. One of our Values is ‘We genuinely care.’  This is not something we aspire to. It is already who we are.
  • Mission is the ‘What’.  It is NOT a generic statement of work about what your business does.  It is the destination to which you will arrive by a specified date. This is your opportunity to declare the intended result.  It is beginning with the end in mind, which is an act of creation. Our Mission is to help 1,000 elite entrepreneurs grow meaningful businesses by 2021.

2. Identify the Strategies

Identify the strategies you will employ to give you the best chance of achieving your Mission. Once you have a clear destination in mind, you can consider all of the possible ways to get there and the people, processes and tools you will need to succeed. You’ll want to consider questions like: Which path? What means of transportation? What tools or gear will be needed?  What team members or expertise must you have on this journey?

When setting Strategy we like to use a strengths-based approach:

  • Strengths to Leverage – strengths that you already have that will be critical to your success.
  • Strengths to Develop – strengths you will need to develop if you want to increase the likelihood of achieving your stated Mission.To help you get really clear on the best Strategy for your business to achieve your Mission, force yourself to narrow down the list of Strategies to no more than 3 Strengths to Leverage and 3 Strengths to Develop.  In my opinion, it’s even better to bring the number of Strategies down to 3-5 total. Focus is better than broad coverage when it comes to Strategy.

3. Establish a meeting rythm

Establish a meeting rhythm that enables you to pull out of the daily chaos of business and to align your company’s time, energy and resources to turn your Vision into reality.Even if you feel you aren’t a natural leader when it comes to setting a Vision and doing Strategy work, everyone can decide how they will spend their time.  A meeting rhythm is nothing more than organizing your calendar in a way that you spend adequate time planning and reviewing progress/measurement.

You want two things from your meeting rhythm:

1. Clarity – as in, we all know exactly where we are going, how we plan to get there and the current status

2. Alignment – as in, we are taking coordinated action… all of the people, processes and systems are aligned to achieve our goals

Incidentally, there is a really powerful by-product that results from getting true clarity and alignment in your business.  You and your people feel confident, and confidence yields far superior results than fear, uncertainty and doubt.

As business owners (as human beings), we are all really very exceptional at reacting.  It comes naturally. The most effective entrepreneurs are creating, not reacting. The good news is you have created enough to have the business you have.  You’ve already done it before! The trick is to learn how to keep creating.

So, it’s time to hold up the mirror.  If you think back on the past month or quarter or year, have you been a powerful creator or a frantic reactor?  You need only look at the progress or results of the business during that time to find the answer.

And now that you “C” more clearly what it takes to move from being more reactive to more creative, what will you do about it?  You can learn to take a more creation-oriented approach to growing your business, but you have to choose to make changes.

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