If you observe the behaviors and thought patterns of people who achieve very little in life, you will notice one thing they have in common: they do not take full responsibility for the results that they produce. They are frequently engaged in blaming others and outside factors for their lack of progress, complaining about others and many other things. They are fond of giving excuses on why things cannot be done and are good at justifying why they are not responsible for their own failures. Does this sound familiar? Unfortunately there are there many such people around. No wonder, most people are not high performers.
When we deliver high impact programs on The Success Principles around the world, the very first principle we coach people on is “Take 100% responsibility for your life and your results”. If you want to be successful, you have to take 100% responsibility for what you experience in your life. This includes the level of your achievements, the results you produce, the quality of your relationships, the state of your health and physical fitness, your income, your debts, your feelings – everything! This is not easy, and that’s why coaching is so needed in our world.
If you want to create the life of your dreams, then you are going to have to take 100% responsibility for your life as well. That means giving up all your excuses, all your victim stories, all the reasons why you can’t and why you haven’t up until now, and all your blaming of outside circumstances. If something doesn’t turn out as planned, you will ask yourself, “How did I create that? What was I thinking? What were my beliefs? What did I say or not say? What did I do or not do to create that result? How did I get the other person to act that way? What do I need to do differently next time to get the result I want?”
Dr. Robert Resnick, a psychotherapist in Los Angeles, California, talked about a very simple but very important formula that made this idea of 100% responsibility even clearer to us. The formula is:
(Event + Response = Outcome)
The basic idea is that every outcome people experience in life (whether it is success or failure, wealth or poverty, health or illness, intimacy or estrangement, joy or frustration) is the result of how they have responded to an earlier event or events in their life. If people don’t like the outcomes they are currently getting, there are two basic choices they can make.
1. They can blame the event (E) for their lack of results (O).
In other words, they can blame the economy, the weather, the lack of money, their lack of education, racism, gender bias, the current administration in Beijing, their wife or husband, their boss’s attitude, the lack of support, the political climate, the system or lack of systems, and so on. If they’re a golfer, they’ve probably even blamed their clubs and the course they played on. No doubt all these factors do exist, but if they were the deciding factor, nobody would ever succeed.
Jackie Chan would never have become a world famous movie star, Bill Gates would never have founded Microsoft, Steve Jobs would never have started Apple Computers and Nelson Mandela would never have been conferred the Nobel Peace Prize. For every reason why it’s not possible, there are other people who have faced the same circumstances and succeeded.
People stop themselves! People think limiting thoughts and engage in self-defeating behaviors. They ignore useful feedback, fail to continuously educate themselves and learn new skills, waste time on the trivial aspects of their lives, engage in idle gossip, eat unhealthy food, fail to exercise, spend more money than they make, fail to invest in their future, fail to tell the truth, don’t ask for what they want – and then wonder why their lives don’t work. But this, by the way, is what most people do. They place the blame for everything that isn’t the way they want it on outside events and circumstances. They have an excuse for everything.
2. They can instead simply change their responses (R) to the events (E) – the way things are – until they get the outcomes (O) they want.
People can change their thinking, change their communication, change the pictures they hold in their head (their images of themselves and the world) – and they can change their behavior (the things they do). That is all people really have any control over anyway. Unfortunately, most people are so run by their habits that they never change their behavior. They get stuck in their conditioned responses – to their spouses and their children, to their colleagues at work, to their customers and their clients, to their students, and to the world at large. They are a bundle of conditioned reflexes that operate outside of their control. They have to regain control of their thoughts, their images, their dreams and their behavior. The things that they think, say and do need to become intentional and aligned with their goals, their vision and their purpose.
If people don’t like their outcomes, they need to change their responses. People have control over three main things in their life – the thoughts they think, the images they visualize, and the actions they take (their behavior). How they use these three things determines the outcomes they will experience. If they don’t like what they are producing and experiencing, they have to change their response. Change their negative thoughts to positive ones. Change what they daydream about. Change their habits. Change what they read. Change their friends. Change how they talk and so on.
So how do we get people to change? If we tell them that they have to change or we coerce them to change, then they are going to be resistant. Instead we use the coaching process to empower people to want to change, and then we support them to make the change happen. We start by listening, observing, using our intuition and asking powerful questions using a simple and yet powerful reframing technique according to the E + R = O formula. Here are two scenarios that demonstrate what happens when people reframe and change to a different response to create a different outcome that they want with the help of a coach.
E + R = O Reframing Technique
Oliver and his colleague worked very hard to get a promotion. After 12 months, his colleague got promoted but he did not get a promotion.
Oliver felt unfairly treated and jealous of his colleague. He blamed others, felt demoralized and wanted to quit his job.
His relationship with his boss and colleague deteriorated and his performance on the job dropped drastically.
Oliver and his colleague worked very hard to get a promotion. After 12 months, his colleague got promoted but he did not receive a promotion.
Oliver talked to his coach about what he could do best to take responsibility for the results that he wanted. He talked to his colleague to find out what his colleague did to get the promotion. He sought advice from his boss about where he stood and what he needed to do to get his promotion.
Oliver obtained useful and positive input from his boss and his colleague about what actions to take. With support from his coach, Oliver continued to improve until he received his promotion six months later.
Dastan’s wife was not happy that he had not been spending time with his family and his attention always seemed to be elsewhere. She expressed her frustration and feelings to Dastan.
Dastan felt hurt and thought that he was not being appreciated for having worked hard for his family’s wellbeing. He got angry and shouted at his wife and blamed his boss for his overworking.
Dastan and his wife got into a heated argument and shouted at each other. Their relationship suffered and their kids were also negatively impacted.
Dastan’s wife was not happy that he had not been spending time with his family, and his attention had always seemed to be elsewhere. She expressed her frustration and feelings to Dastan.
Dastan brainstormed with his coach for solutions on how to create more free time, which was the outcome he wanted. He listened to his wife and assured her that he loved her and the family and that he was working very hard to provide for them. He comforted her with love and scheduled some time with his family.
His wife and kids felt more secure and appreciated him more. Dastan began to enjoy a more balanced life, and his relationship with his wife improved tremendously.
As you have just seen from the cases of Oliver and Dastan, this technique is very useful in enabling people to take responsibility for changing their thoughts, imagery and behavior to produce the outcome that they really want. Initially with the help of a coach, people could be reactive in terms of changing their response only when faced with an undesired outcome that was obtained as a result of undesired responses to an undesired event. Over time, once they are used to the habit of reframing, their life would be so changed that they can proactively and consistently reframe to focus on getting the right solutions and continue to creatively respond to any event until they produce the outcome that they are happy with.
Reframing helps people to change their mindset and enables them to redirect their energies to focus on the positive things and opportunities that are available by replacing their limiting reactions with empowering reactions to achieve their desired state. Use the Reframing Technique at the appropriate time when you pick up red flags such as limiting and self-defeating thoughts and interpretations, poor attitude and assumptions that are creating problems and preventing people from achieving their goals. It will help people move from being stuck to becoming resourceful, from being preoccupied with doom stories to focusing on creating success stories.