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E+R=O. A simple formula for success in your career

28 July 2016 By Cameron Norton, Davidson Executive Victoria

Forget E = Mc2. The formula you need for professional success is E+R=O.

I first learnt this simple, but powerful formula from Jack Canfield’s book ‘The Success Principles: How to get from where you are to where you want to be.’

Since learning about E+R=O, it has formed part of my daily thinking to keep me moving forward in my career and life.

But this blog isn’t about me. It’s about helping you to achieve success in your executive career.

So what does it stand for and why do you need to remember it?

Before I go into what each letter stands for and why this formula matters, I want you to think back to a time when you went through or led a restructure, experienced a redundancy, were overlooked for a job that you thought you should get or when it came to performance review time, you just didn’t get the raise (or in government terms, the increment) that you thought was a done deal.

I’m sure almost everyone reading this will have been through at least one of these events.

Think back to how these events made you feel? How did you respond to them? What were your outcomes?

For some, an event like this can define their life and unfortunately, not in a positive way.

As an executive recruitment professional in Victoria, I get the opportunity to meet with many people at interesting stages of their career.

I get to learn about a person’s career history and delve into the good, the bad and the ugly to truly understand where they have come from and where they are wanting to go.

It becomes evident through these conversations that the most successful people have all faced hardship or events that could have derailed them but instead, they changed their behaviour and their actions to produce their desired outcome.

A simple formula for success in your career, which winners have been using is:

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

So what does it stand for and how can I apply it?

The basic premise is that events happen to you whether you like it or not. These events have an impact on the outcomes you achieve in your career (and in your life). The only thing that you can change in order to get a different outcome is your response, your R.

If you don’t like the outcomes you are getting, you need to change your R.

Think of when the Board or head of your organisation announces “we’re going to restructure the company to drive more efficient measures, change direction, services and outputs.”

Does this message fill the organisation with optimism and hope?

Unlikely. Does it cause staff to question “what does it mean for my job, will I be able to work the same hours, will I still sit next to Joe, oh no…. will I even have a job?”

Staff are likely to fall into a downward spiral of emotions during the limbo period between an announcement about a looming restructure and knowing what it means for their present situation. It causes inner turmoil, stress and their minds can go into overdrive with the creation of disaster scenarios.

It’s not a good place to be, particularly as a leader in charge of implementing this change.

But what if you, and your team, had the attitude that things like this are going to happen and that you have a choice of how to respond to get the outcomes you want?

Regardless of the event, the outcomes are likely to be different.

In the case of a restructure or significant changes to your business area, you might facilitate your team to consider what opportunities come from the event/s.

What are the new things that you can do now, that you haven’t been able to do in the past?

Whatever it is that you do as a leader, you can take charge of how you and your team responds and you don’t let the event dictate what the outcomes are going to be. So choose your responses when events happen and keep changing your responses until you and your team achieve success.

As a professional adviser to CEOs, Boards and Executives on their workforce needs, I often provide advice to clients that they should be recruiting people that are in control of their R. Some traits to look specifically for during the recruitment process are the traits of optimism, curiosity and grit.

Curious people, by their very nature, seek to understand new ways of operating and are not afraid to change the status quo.

Grit or perseverance is the key ingredient that turns the curious leaders’ learnings into tangible outcomes.

Think of the difference it would make to an organisation to have people that take charge of their R and regardless of the events that happen, are able to work towards achieving better outcomes.

The great thing about this formula is it isn’t unique to only the candidates I interact with. Organisations can also use it to achieve different outcomes (and they are going to need to). Funding model changes (NDIS), rate capping (within local government), change of governments (state and federal), all these events happen and how an organisation responds will determine the outcomes that are achieved in the short and longer term.

Use this formula to supercharge your outcomes in your career, your organisation or your life.

Cameron Norton is a Principal Consultant with Davidson Executive Victoria. He is a highly regarded executive recruiter who specialises in the C-Suite and Government across Victoria.