Written by: Daniel Petkau
E + R = O
For those of you familiar with Tim Kight and his work, this phrase might be familiar to you. Tim has spent the last 30+ years studying elite performance and helping organizations achieve their goals by building better leaders, better culture and better behavior. (And I should note that before you read further, all of these strategies and concepts I am about to talk about are NOT my own. They are things I have learned from listening to Tim Kight and feel very passionate about and I believe everyone could benefit from them, so I do not take any credit for anything below this line.)
Tim may be more notably remembered for his work with Ohio State and then coach Urban Meyer, where he acted as the Ohio State football team's leadership consultant. I have had the privilege of hearing Tim Kight speak on numerous occasions, particularly when I was an Assistant Track and Field coach for a high school track team. While the applications we used were geared towards coaching, sports, and building character in young people, this phrase can certainly be used in almost any facet of life. So, what does E+R=O mean? It stands for:
Event + Response = Outcome
Let me expand…
Every situation you find yourself in, whether it is playing on a sports team, working at your job or going about your daily life at home, there are events that occur that we must respond to. Depending on our response, that will eventually lead to the outcome from that event. You are always in control of your response. It does not matter the situation. It can be good or it can be bad, but don’t let society and the “norm” tell you that you don’t have control of your response. To break it down a little further:
E = the things you need to navigate around
R = the work you need to do
O = what you want
Instead of reacting impulsively, take the time to focus on your R. One of the concepts we as coaches used to create a better culture was to focus on our R’s and whether it is a below the line response or an above the line response. When you respond below the line, that is a default response. It is impulsive, on autopilot and resistant. When you respond above the line, it is discipline driven and is intentional, on-purpose and skillful. If you want to create a better culture, better people and better behavior wherever you are at, focus on your R. Slow down the impulsive emotions. Stop auto-pilot thinking. Get clarity by asking yourself these questions in this order…
What event do I have?
What outcome do I want?
What response do I need?
I truly believe that even when life throws us unexpected circumstances, if we take the time to press pause, get our mind right and own our response, it is going to create a culture of better people and better character. When we started talking to our athletes about these concepts and using this to create a culture of champions, there was a noticeable difference in not just their physical performance on the track, but also in how they treated kids on their own team and opposing teams.
So, how are you managing your R? Don’t fixate on or blame the E. Take the time to slow down and make your R stronger than any E you face.
I could go on and on about this topic, so if this interests you and you’d want to know more, Tim is the Founder and Chairman of Focus 3. Check him out, I’d highly recommend it. Like Tim, I believe we can all benefit from elite leaders who can be disciplined-driven decision makers that create better culture. So…how will you focus on your response?