Focus on What You Can Control

Concept 1/5 from “Think Like A Warrior” by Darrin Donnelly

Event + Response = Outcome


This is a basic formula that describes the outcome of anything to occur in your life. Something happens, you respond to it in a particular way, which creates the outcome.


An example could be finding a stray dog.

Event - you find a dog outside.

Response - you take the dog to a shelter.

Outcome - the dog is at the shelter and you go home.


Or perhaps things go differently.

Event - you find a dog outside.

Response - you keep the dog.

Outcome - you now have a dog.


In both cases, the Event was exactly the same, and yet, we ended up with two completely different outcomes. Either you don’t have a dog, or you have a dog. A third Response could’ve given you another completely different Outcome. Maybe you gave the dog to your neighbor and now you have a neighbor with a dog.


How did these Outcomes end up so differently? It wasn’t because of the Event. In all three cases, the Event that started it off was that you found a dog outside. The Event is a constant. No matter what happens in the rest of the formula, the Event will be the same.


The variable here is the Response. That is what you have control over. In fact it’s the only thing in your life you have control over. Events outside your control will happen all around you, all throughout your life. You can’t control these Events. You can’t decide that today you’re just going to find a dog outside. Maybe your boss decides to take some frustrations out on you. Maybe your kid breaks one of your nice plates. Maybe a global pandemic shuts the whole world down. All of those things are Events. Events are a constant. No matter what you do at this point, those are fixed Events that already happened.


The problem is, we humans spend far too much time stressing ourselves out over Events that are fixed. Your boss keeps giving you verbal lashings. Man, if only your boss wasn’t like that you wouldn’t feel so depressed about your career right now. Your child started doing drugs. Man, if only you had done something different as a parent they would’ve grown up to be an outstanding young adult. We get so caught up in the “If only.”


But the Event has already taken place. Regardless of whether there’s anything you could or couldn’t have done differently, the Event is now fixed. Which means your only variable is your Response. And your Response is your choice and your choice alone.


Focus on what you can control. Events are fixed, you can’t control Events. But you can control your Responses. Make the choice to Respond in the best way possible to make the most of the situation. Yes, obviously having an abusive boss is not fun and may be downright destructive. What can your good Response be? There are a number of options.


You could choose to Respond by getting a new job. If you’re able to do that, you can have an Outcome of having a more peaceful workplace. You could choose to Respond by talking with your boss in private. Maybe they didn’t realize they were being so hurtful, and your Outcome is a better relationship with your boss. You could choose to Respond by ignoring the verbal attacks. Your boss may be unhappy, but you don’t have to be. Any of those Responses, plus an infinite amount of others, are good Responses. The problem is that how most humans tend to Respond is different. They choose to Respond by taking the comments personally and letting anger towards their boss stew under the surface. In that case, the Outcome is that the boss doesn’t change and your unhappy situation doesn’t change.


There are many Events that will occur through your life, many good and many bad. Whether Events are good or bad is not up for you to decide. What you can decide, is whether your Responses to those Events will be good or bad. You have it within your control to Respond to any Event in the best way possible. You have the power to Respond Intentionally!

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