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Joe Serio Leadership and Management
with Joe Serio

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A simple equation to change your life

Burn this equation into your brain and keep it in the front of your mind

You may remember that last month I wrote a piece about the wise Chinese farmer who reserves judgment to situations around him. Instead, he simply responds, "Who knows what’s good or bad?" In this way, the Chinese farmer remains flexible to respond in a healthy way to any situation he encounters. His philosophy is: "It is what it is."

The Chinese farmer knows that most people are on emotional rollercoasters, responding to the superficial nature of events. For those people, the same event can be seen as "good" and then "bad" and then "good" again, depending on the labels we give it.

This month I’d like to share with you a basic equation that will change your life, if you let it. Burn this equation into your brain and keep it in the front of your mind. It’s an elegant summary of the Chinese farmer’s philosophy:

E + R = O

An event (E) plus your response (R) equals the outcome (O).

Once an event has occurred, we can’t undo it. The only thing we have control over is our response to the event. It is our response that will determine which outcome we get. If we choose to respond in a negative, unhealthy way, we will get a negative, unhealthy outcome.

The complicating factor is so often we choose to respond by blaming others for our outcome. We’re protecting our egos instead of owning our responses.

Here's the bottom line: You — and only you — are 100 percent responsible for where you put yourself and how your life turns out. It's not about your parents anymore, or things that happened 10, 20 or 30 years ago. It's not about your boss, your wife, your husband, your kids, your neighbors or anyone else.

It's about you.

The simple – and frequently painful – fact of the matter is:

You are the one who ate the junk food.
You are the one who didn't say no.
You are the one who took the job.
You are the one who stayed in the job.
You are the one who lost your temper.
You are the one who chose to believe them.
You are the one who ignored your intuition.
You are the one who abandoned your dream.
You are the one who bought it.
You are the one who didn't take care of it.
You are the one who decided you had to do it alone.
You are the one who said yes to the dogs.
And so on.

You thought the thoughts, you created the feelings, you made the choices, you said the words and that’s why you are where you are now. Your R to the E determined your O.

Today's a new day. Assess where you are and how you got there. How did your responses to events influence the outcome of your life? What can you do today to start embracing different responses and start living the life you deserve?

About the author

Dr. Joe Serio is a popular and sought-after criminal justice speaker and trainer. He is currently delivering a series of classes on time management, emotional intelligence, leadership, customer service, and other topics at the Harris County (Houston) Sheriff’s Office Training Academy. Dr. Serio is a featured speaker at SHIELD, Sheriff Institute for Ethical Leadership Development, at the Travis County (Austin) Sheriff’s Office Training Academy. He also speaks at adult and juvenile probation departments as well as police departments.

He can be reached at You can visit his website at

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