E+R=O Just Got Better


In my latest book, Coaching is Teaching at its Best! I made mention in Tip #5 (Go to Practice with the Right Attitude) of a unique philosophy of life that is expressed as an alphabetical formula.  E + R = O represents a philosophy that can be applied to virtually every aspect of one’s life. The credit for this philosophy actually goes to Jack Canfield, a California-based, motivational speaker who is also the author of the best-selling Chicken Soup for the Soul series. Simply put, this philosophy is meant to teach the importance of attitude (how we respond to events in our lives) in order to impact those outcomes.

The formula reads, E + R = O with the “E” standing for Events. Throughout our lives, each of us is impacted by certain events, some good and some not good. In fact, some may be absolutely horrific.  While we may bring some of these events onto ourselves due to poor choices or irresponsible actions we may have taken, in many cases these events are totally outside of our control. They are just things that happen to us in life. The “R” stands for Response.  When those events do occur in our life, while we cannot change the actual event, we do control how we respond to it. How we respond to those events is totally up to us and how we respond will largely determine the “O”, the outcome or end result.

So, if you are looking for a positive outcome, then it makes sense that you need to have a positive response to the event. Unfortunately, many of us seem to think the “R” stands for react and this, in most cases leads to a negative outcome. A response, while guided by well-grounded thought and logic, is far different from an instinctive reaction. But, in today’s hectic, fast-paced world of non-stop, 24/7, self-serving technology and instant gratification, how do we remind ourselves to slow down, to hit the pause button and take that deep breath to help us find that positive response that will ensure a positive outcome?

Maybe we need to alter the formula.

I have learned over the course of my life that if I want a positive outcome to any event, be it good or bad, I need to respond in such a way that emphasizes the positive, caring, compassionate spirit in each of us. As awkward, strange, even silly as it may sound, when we respond out of love to any situation, the outcomes are almost always positive.  On the contrary, if I respond out of hate, anger or fear, the outcomes will ultimately be negative. Even if in the very short-term it seems like the right outcome, over time I will learn that it was not the right way to respond.

E + P + R = O

So, how do I immerse myself in love and compassion so that I respond in the best way possible? I PRAY first. Going to God in prayer has always been the most logical way I know of to find the good that is deep inside me, or for that matter, the good that is deep inside each and every one of us. After any event that has impacted us, if we take the time to pray first for guidance and direction, for ultimately an outcome that would be God’s will and not necessarily our will, there is far greater potential for us to make the right response and for the outcome to be positive.

I love the Jack Canfield’s E + R = O philosophy and I am convinced it can change lives. On the other hand, by adding prayer to the process (E + P + R = O), I am convinced we can do more than change lives; we can change the world.

“Now these three remain; faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

1 Corinthians 13:13

Business and Closing out the year…

If the holidays are not hectic enough with gift giving, holiday gatherings, relatives visiting and the like, maybe your like many people and work for a publicly traded company.  Well now, let’s just add to the end of year fun!  It can be absolutely crazy trying to close business right up until December 31st and yet, understandably, it is what is expected. After all, it’s all about shareholder value, right? I mean it is what it is.  I did however, read something just the other day that put it all in perspective. The piece was simply entitled, “Family” and it read as follows….

Are you aware that if we died tomorrow, the company that we are working for could easily replace us in a matter of days, but the family we left behind would feel the loss for the rest of their lives?

And come to think of it, we pour ourselves more into our work than into our family; an unwise investment indeed, don’t you think?

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Playing Golf with the Dead

I’m not much of a golfer. Never have been. Being a former football and hockey player, games that involve tempo and concentration over quick reaction and physical contact have never been my forte.  So, I pretty much suck at golf and darts. But, with the sun shining brightly and the temperature nearing 80 on a Thursday afternoon, I felt a calling.  I think I’ll go play golf. 

I drove to a little Par 3 course near my home called Walnut Ridge. I nice little course, it plays fast being only 4,860 yards (Par 54).  I paid for 18 holes and a cart with a twenty dollar bill and got change back.  Nice.  Now I’m thinking, hey, maybe I should come out to play here more often?  It was 4:15 PM and standing on the first tee box I looked across the flat landscape and realized I was the only one on the entire course.  I literally was going to be all alone on the golf course.  Then it hit me; play two balls, one for you and one for Dad.

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Back by Popular Demand – Play Like It’s the Stanley Cup

“Play like it’s the Stanley Cup!”

When I first heard these words I was all of 11 years-old.  I was playing youth hockey and it was my first year playing.  Being that we didn’t have a lot of money, I didn’t have the best equipment. My dad, Canadian by birth but a naturalized U.S. citizen, wasn’t about to buy me equipment until he knew I enjoyed the game and was committed to playing. I wore National Geographic magazines under my socks as shin guards and old basketball knee pads as elbow pads.  In our league, helmets and teeth guards were not required.  After all, it was 1962.

Of course, we played on outside rinks in Kenmore, a suburb of Buffalo, NY. The temperature often hovered in the single digits at our games and when it would snow, they’d have to shovel the ice between periods. As my dad would say, “You’re not a real hockey player unless you know how to back check into a 30 mph wind!” That wasn’t all he said. Whenever he dropped me off at the rink for practice, he’d grab my arm to get my attention and as my eyes met his, he’d say the same thing every time…”Play like it’s the Stanley Cup!”

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A Time to Text and a Time to Pray

One does not have to be a biblical scholar to know the scripture. 

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven;
A time to be born, and a time to die;
A time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal;
A time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
A time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to seek, and a time to lose;
A time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew;
A time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate;
A time for war, and a time for peace.   
                                          Ecclesiastes 3:1-8


We’ve heard this scripture read at funerals, at weddings and confirmations. The Birds even used these words to create a rock hit back in the late 60’s. If Soloman had been writing the book of Ecclesiastes in today’s world, maybe he would have added… there is a time to text, and a time to pray.

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Goldman Sachs and the Loss of Leadership

Over the course of my career, I have worked for Fortune 200 companies as well as much smaller, more entrepreneurial firms.  I have enjoyed good success and also experienced failure.  I have made 100% Clubs, received various awards for a job well done and have been fairly rewarded financially for my efforts.  I also have been laid off and fired.  I have lived both sides of the coin. 

Ironically, as I look back on my experiences in business and intercollegiate athletics, I have learned much about leadership and performance improvement.  While the latter is still elusive for many companies (most companies are terrible at developing their people), the former, leadership, is pitiful if not non-existent in some. The issue of leadership, or should I say lack of leadership, was recently brought to light in Greg Smith’s op-ed piece in The New York Times entitled, “Why I Am Leaving Goldman Sachs” (you can read the article at:  http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/14/opinion/why-i-am-leaving-goldman-sachs.html?_r=2&pagewanted=1&ref=general&src=me). The letter was published on the very day Mr. Smith resigned from the firm. 

Business, it never ceases to amaze me

Could it be…a company that has been in business for 17 years and has never made a profit?  No, it gets even better. Imagine this same company executing a successful IPO in just the last 90 days. Impossible you say…think again.

Such is the story of Angie’s List, an Indianapolis-based company. Angie’s List is a ‘business review’ company that allows individuals to post reviews of businesses they have used and then people who sign up with Angie’s List as members can use these reviews to evaluate various companies (from plumbers to pediatricians) before making their own choice for the particular service. A great business model, but heaven help me…how does anyone continue to stay in business for 17 years and NOT make a profit?  Continue reading

Thank You Expert Access Radio – You made me think…

Today I did a taped interview for Expert Access Radio, a radio broadcast that will air this Sunday, February 19th at 4 PM on 55KRC out of Cincinnati, Ohio (go to www.55krc.com).  The interview was in regard to the re-release of my first book, The Missing Piece – Our Search for Security in an Insecure World. The co-hosts, Steve Kayser and Jay McKeever, were really good guys to work with. They were fun, had a lot of energy and they asked some really great questions. In fact, they made me…THINK.

Whenever I prepare for a radio/TV interview or public appearance regarding one of my books, I always go back through the book to re-familiarize myself with some of the material I have written. Ultimately, the The Missing Piece is a book about hope and it reminds us that there is always the possibility that tomorrow can be just a little bit better than today. The book is filled with real-life examples of the many challenges we face, the priorities we set for ourselves, and the choices we make as we seek some sense of security in our life.  In the end, I talk about finding something far more valuable than security, something I refer to as the other missing peace.Continue reading

Learn Something New, Do Something New

I’ve always been a proponent of learning new things and doing new things because sometimes, we just get stuck.  We just get in a rut and do the same stuff day after day.  Weeks go by, months go by, and even years pass – and we are right back where we were the year before except we’re one year older.  Rarely do we challenge ourselves by trying to actually learn something new or do something we have never done before. This past year I was stuck and I needed to learn something new and do something new. The question was, what would I do?

As I contemplated what I could learn and do that would be new in my life, my thoughts went to the game of hockey. Growing up in Buffalo, NY, I learned to play hockey as a little boy. Later in life and going through a divorce at the time, I picked up the game once again and have continued to play ever since.  I have many fond memories of backyard skates as a kid and adult tournaments I have played in.  All that said, I felt it might be time for me to give something back to the game. How could I do something involved with the game of hockey to ‘Pay It Forward’ so to speak? And then the light went on – I decided I would start officiating ice hockey.
My wife shared her sentiments on my decision in one short sentence – “What, are you NUTS?” As a former hockey mom for 18 years, she has no love in her heart or fond memories of hockey officials.  She best remembers them for missing the penalties that should have been called and making the lousy calls that should not have been called!  She assured me she would never come watch me ref a game if indeed I did go through with my plan.  My response?  “That’s 2 minutes for unsportsmanlike conduct and a 5-minute major for lack of spousal support!” She was not impressed.

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It’s Called Praying, Not Tebowing!

I love football. I started playing organized football when I was 8 years-old, played both high school and college football and later coached at the college level.  Yeah, I truly love football.  I also love America and the many freedoms we enjoy; freedom of speech, freedom to choose our vocation, and yes, freedom of religion, to worship as we so please.

Recently, America’s ‘media machine’ has become consumed with what is a simple act of faith for one football player and as only they can do, have turned it into a media frenzy.  Tim Tebow’s personal choice to pray whenever he so chooses (which just may be when he is wearing his Denver Bronco uniform) is now no longer ‘praying’, it is ‘Tebowing’.  Are you kidding me?  They actually have invented their own term for whenever Tim Tebow takes a knee….Tebowing?Continue reading