A couple years ago, I learned a powerful formula that put into perspective my life. There are two aspects of life that define everything.
The first aspect is the event. Events happen to us everyday. In fact they happen multiple times a day. The affirmation email from my pastor. The youth that decided not to show up to youth ministry. The volunteer who did show up and followed through on their commitment. The flat tire. So many events happen to us. That’s the first part of the formula.
The second aspect of life is my response. I woke up on the wrong side of the bed and decided to have a bad attitude all day long. I responded positively in reaction to some negative feedback. I yelled at my child. I rolled my eyes. I got frustrated. I smiled. I listened. I gave someone a high five. I punched a wall. I took a nap.
The interesting comparison between these two aspects of life is quite simple. I often don’t control the events that happen in my life. Events happen all day and every day.
Response? Well, I totally control that. Whether I yell, smile, listen, scream, whatever, I totally control my response. It is not always easy to control my response, but I do control it. Sometimes the event causes me to react quite habitually that makes me think that I don’t control it, but I do.
So here is the powerful formula:
Event + Response = Outcome
Let’s take an example. A volunteer doesn’t show up for a ministry night that she is in charge of. That’s an event. I react in a negative way. I have a bad attitude about it and I tell the other volunteers about her lack of commitment and follow through. That’s my response. It is no surprise, then, that the night does not go well. The outcome.
Let’s take another example. A volunteer doesn’t show up for a ministry night that she is in charge of. That’s the event (again). I react in a proactive, positive way. I immediately come up with solutions to make the night happen. I round up the other volunteers to help me. That’s my response. The night goes extremely well. The outcome.
Here’s the rub: no matter the event, I control the outcome. I can do one of two things: I can blame the event or change the response. Changing my response is easier.
Having a good attitude is about changing my response to events that can be deemed negative. My response, as well as the event, determines the outcome. Whether the outcome is positive or negative is totally up to me.
Everyday, I need to control my response.