E + R = O

I am not sure where I first learned this “formula” but I am a fan of Occam’s Razorand believe that anything that helps us simplify our thinking is worth sharing. After reading the following blog posts, I saw a theme developing and the content coalesced on its own from there.

  • In Dorie Clark’s recent article “Why Mindfulness Is The Next Revolution In Marketing”, she makes the point that while there are many things we cannot control, what we can control is how we respond. While the context of this discussion is centered around marketing, it is obviously applicable to anyone’s daily activities.
  • There is also correlation with David Brendel’s blog post “How Philosophy Makes You A Better Leader” in which he expounds on the value of self-reflection in regards to behavior change. Brendel is a psychiatrist at Harvard Medical School and discusses the actual neuroscience of self-reflection as it pertains to activating the anterior cingulate cortex. The ACC is a critical region of the brain that can “detect discrepancies between the actual and desired states”. So once we begin engaging the ACC, we can identify goals and develop plans to attain them (more or less).
  • In Les McKeown’s post “Why ‘Capacity’ Is The Key to Success in 2015”, he makes the point that “…it’s not the events that will shape your future next year–it’s how your business responds to future events when they occur.”

All of these folks referenced, either explicitly or implicitly, the formula E+R=O (Event + Response = Outcome). Here are some thoughts on why it is so valuable (yet so simple).

  1. Events are going to happen whether we want them to or not. This is where I think we all need to release ourselves from the Fallacy of Control (my own personal theory). No amount of planning or thinking will cause or prevent events from happening in our lives. I am not saying we should adopt a fatalistic attitude but I do believe we should shift our mindset from planning to preparation.
  2. Our “response” is truly the only variable we control (some of us better than others) and our only consistent method to change the outcome. Don’t waste you time & energy (2 extremely valuable resources) lamenting the event .Instead focus on being mindful and controlling your response so it is both positive and productive for you and others. If you are in a leadership role then this is paramount because your reaction to events serves as a model to others so it can be multiplied tenfold or more! In order to leverage this power, you have to engage in triple loop learning which enables us to self-correct “on the fly” because we are objectively aware of our own behavior.
  3. Outcomes are only within our control in the context of our responses so the more we shift the burden or blame to others, the less likely we are going to be able to achieve our goals (personally or corporately). The minute we relinquish our power in the process, we are through. Here is where you find out where your true locus of control rests. The goal is always to have an internal locus of control so that you believe you can impact the world around you. The alternative is that you are acted upon by outside forces beyond your control and that is not a happy place to be.

I will share that while this formula can help you achieve your goals and completely change your attitude, it also comes with a heavy price. I could tell you about it but I think Rocky Balboa says it much better than I ever could.


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Filed under Decision Making, Learning, Looking in the mirror

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