response determines outcome
Your response determines the outcome

Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.  – Viktor E. Frankl

How has your week been going?  When you reflect back on it, are you happy with how it played out, the impact you had and the results you got?

If not, what could you have done differently or how could you have responded differently, so that the results were different?

You see, your response to what happens to you and around you, has a massive impact on the results you are getting.

Jack Canfield sums this up really simply in his book “The Success Principles”:

E + R = O.

Or, the Event plus your Response equals the Outcome.

Many people think that things happen to them, their results are what they are because of the things that happen to them.  Yes, it’s true, events do just happen, but it is how you choose to respond to those events that will determine the results you get.

I saw this play out recently with my 10-year-old daughter.

Up to recently, I dropped Sophie and a couple of her friends to school a couple of mornings a week.  The girls would have fun playing in Sophie’s room while Sophie was still getting ready for school.  A few times, Sophie got upset and feel like she was being excluded.  Because she felt like she was being excluded, she acted differently towards her friends, telling them to stop playing with her toys and to stop touching her things.  Her friends then got upset with her because she was being mean.  All this eventuated in a car trip to school with three grumpy and upset girls and one slightly frustrated Mum (arrghh!!!).

No matter how much I tried to explain to Sophie that the girls were only responding to how she was acting, she couldn’t understand it (she is only 10 after all) and this pattern kept repeating.

So, I said to her, “Let’s try something different.  How about tomorrow when the girls come, you make sure you are ready for school and just start playing with them.”

“It won’t make any difference Mum, they always exclude me”.  “OK” I said, “How about we just do an experiment and see what happens.”

The next day, she was ready for school before the girls got there, she played with the girls, no one felt left out, no one felt the other was being mean and the car drive to school was free of tension and drama.

The same situation and two very different results.

In both scenarios, Sophie couldn’t do anything about the event, the girls were coming to our house school (E).  However, she did have control (whether she knew it or not) over how she responded.

In the first scenario she responded by feeling left out and telling the girls not to touch her stuff (R) and the girls thought she was mean and the drive to school was tense (O).

In the second scenario, she joined in and played (R), and everyone had a much happier morning (O).

Now, this is a really simple situation involving 10 year old girls, however, this equation continues to play out, for our entire life!

It may be a traffic jam, it may be the way someone speaks to you, it may be someone saying ‘no’ to a sales proposal or it may be someone cheating on you.  Whatever it is, you have no control over that event, but you do have complete control over how you respond (whether it feels like it or not at the time).

No one highlights this better than Victor Frankl, who survived the WWII Jewish Holocaust and concentration camps including Auschwitz, in his book ‘Man’s Search for Meaning’:

“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.” 

So, looking back on your last week or so, where could you have chosen to respond differently in order to change the outcome you got?

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