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Event + Response = Outcome Formula (E+R=O)

The following outtake, focused on the fascinating E + R = O formula is taken from a recent exclusive recording of an MMC Learning moments talk by Andrew Ramwell, part-time psychologist, a director, business coach and business consultant.

In this extract, Andrews talks about how to utilise the formula to change events out of your control to your advantage. He explains how through using simple methods to reprogram our instinctual responses to certain events we can start to respond in a way which will give a better outcome instead.

Watch the 5 minute video below for a fascinating insight in to how to be master of your own instincts!

What is the formula?


Event plus response equals outcome, is a secret to success formula that you’ll find in lots of business self-help books and personal development books. It was first written in Jack Canfield’s book, First Secrets to Success. What does it mean?

“Something happens, we have a response, and that gives us an outcome.”

For example, we had the pandemic, that was an event. The response was that we were locked down, and the outcome was that some businesses stopped trading, some businesses, unfortunately, had to fold. Other businesses, actually did quite well, because they had products and services that were wanted at that time.

How do we use the Event plus response equals Outcome formula to use events to our advantage?

“We can’t always change the events. There’s a lot happening in the world at the moment. “

For me, one of the ways that we face this, is use the events to our advantage. I like to remind people that sometimes we can’t control the events, but what we can control is our response. If we can control our response, it changes the outcome. Now, it can be an easier said than done, and different people face different events, we have different responses.

I’ll give you a real-time example. I use this formula at quite a deep level by getting people to instigate change very, very quickly. I was shopping in a supermarket one day, and someone was stacking things on the shelves with one of those big metal trolleys. As they went to get something out of the trolley, the door slammed shut, and it trapped their thumb. They let out a bit of a scream, an expletive! I immediately just walked over quite calmly to them. I said, “What’s the sensation?”

They looked at me as if I was a bit bonkers. I said, “Well, your thumb, could you just explain to me what the sensation is in your thumb at the moment? Is it pulsing? Is it like a drum beat, does it have a rhythm?” Again, they were a bit perplexed, but they started explaining to me, “Well, it’s throbbing.” I said, “What? Like a beat? One, two. One, two. One, two? They said, no.” I said, “Well, could you make it go a bit slower?” They looked at me. I said, “Well, try and breathe, follow my breathing, and we’ll slow it down.” Then I said, “Right, where’s the pain now? Do you feel it up in your arm? Is it in your wrist? Is it in your elbow?” I just had this very casual conversation with them. They seemed okay so I said, “Oh, that’s fine then,” and I walked off and went to do my shopping.

About five minutes later, they came running back after me. They said, “What did you do?” I said, “I don’t know, what do you mean what did I do?” They said, “I really hurt my thumb, but it doesn’t hurt, what did you do?” Initially I tried to fob it off, but then I explained to them it’s actually a psychological technique; they expected that their thumb would hurt, they were associating the pain response with the accident. All I did was I disrupted that pain response. I got them to focus on something else. By focusing on something else, it’s allowed the body to just naturally do what it does, which is start healing itself.

Once I created that disassociation, they didn’t amplify the association, which means they disconnected from that pain response and stayed disconnected. Now, did it mean their thumb wouldn’t bruise in the morning? No, but what it did do, it managed their psychological response in a way which they probably never had done before, to create a better less painful outcome for themselves.

“Usually the event happens, and we have a natural programmed tendency to respond to something in a certain way. “

What you can do and what the whole formula is about is finding different ways of disrupting that immediate instinctive response, taking a step back and putting a new system in place which will potentially serve you better in terms of outcome.

How do we reprogramme our instinctive response to create a better outcome in the Event plus response equals outcome formula?

One thing that I do very quickly with clients to get them to think about how to do this is, is ask them to think about how we can manage or stop a response before it arises if there are situations we know we are going to step into. One situation might be if we don’t like public speaking, and when we step into that arena, one of the instinctual responses is we get a very dry mouth because if we get anxious, our body’s response is to pull all the blood away from everything but the vital organs and that gives you a dry mouth. Well a simple way to change this response is actually if you deliberately put saliva under your tongue, it confuses the body by saying, “nothing to see here, carry on!”

There is a whole list of little tips and tricks I’d encourage you to think about trying in order to beat that instinctual response.

“The key point is if you find yourself starting to run a pattern of behaviour, find a way of disrupting that. “

Whether you click your fingers, whether you have a little thing that you do, a little dance, or say a ditty- Footballers do it all the time as they’re coming out of the tunnel to shake the nerves! So, just look to disrupt it. Then, once you’ve disrupted it, replace it with the thought you do want and put your attention on the response you do want because that’s what’s going to change the outcome.

We hardwire ourselves in to certain behaviours because the fact we have these preloaded responses. They’re called heuristics. They’re shortcuts in our brain to quickly dictate the way that we respond in certain situations, mainly to get us out of perceived danger, they’re animalistic, fight or flight responses. So if you’ve got one of those and you don’t want to respond, practise and rehearse and just build a new response. If you do that, the brain will eventually connect the patterns together. Neurons that fire together will wire together, it’s what’s known as Hebb’s law. I Hope that helped!

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