How to Become Emotionally Intelligent
By Ted Janusz

I was interested in finding out how Coach Urban Meyer won a college football national championship with the Ohio State Buckeyes, so I read his excellent autobiography, entitled Above the Line: Lessons in Leadership and Life from a Championship Program.

Would you like to learn a key foundational principle in the Buckeyes’ success that you can apply to your own life? Let me boil it down for you: E+R=O.


The Buckeyes’ success has more to do with that principle than any offensive or defensive scheme Meyer has developed.

So what does E+R=O mean? E, the events that happen in your life plus R, your response to those events, equals O, the outcome.

You see, unsuccessful teams and unsuccessful people do not believe in the formula. They think that E equals O; the Event equals the Outcome. In other words, if somebody cuts them off in traffic, they need to get angry. If the boss yells at them, they need to “put her back into her place.”

In fact, why can we get angry in situations like these? Because in those moments we can feel unappreciated, powerless or out of control. We don’t like feeling that way. So getting angry is our way to feel like we can get our power or control back. But the feeling is only temporary, and we can cause permanent damage when we resort to unchecked anger.

The first step in gaining emotional intelligence is to be aware of your emotions. But do you realize that research has shown that only 36 percent of people are able to identify their emotions as they are occurring? As a result, they simply go from E to O.

We may have no control over the E, the event. But we have total control over R, our response, and as a result O, the outcome.

Let me give you an example of how I used the E+R=O formula yesterday. I made an opening statement to a friend and, for no apparent reason, she blew up at me. I really didn’t know in that moment how to respond, but I certainly knew how I was NOT going to respond, which was by becoming angry or defensive. So I just walked away to think about how to best respond. It didn’t take long. In the meantime, my friend sent me a text message which read, “I am really sorry.”

So I went back and we continued the conversation. However, by taking a moment to think about my emotions and my response to the event, I didn’t do anything to harm our long-term friendship.

When I taught a class on emotional intelligence recently, one attendee told me that the formula E+R=O was the most important thing she had learned all day. The event plus your response to that event equals the outcome.

So next time you encounter an unfamiliar or potentially emotional event, take some time to calculate the proper response to best ensure a successful outcome.

About the Author

Ted Janusz, MBA, facilitates workshops, and has presented more than 4,500 hours on relevant business-related topics internationally. He is a dynamic keynote speaker that helps to improve businesses and business relationships and can be reached at [email protected]