The Equation

The Equation


We can always start over. What’s been broken can be repaired. We can change our habits and move forward together along a new path.

  • Zetta Elliott



We’ve recently added some new schools to the mentoring roster, and as we facilitate the program to these amazing young individuals, it has become ever more clear that math is not the strongest subject for our youth today. One reason I suppose is that they are graduated to higher grades without first mastering the basics. For you must understand addition before you can successfully multiply, and if you want to be able to calculate parabolas, you need an understanding of algebra.

My gut reaction was to blame the school board, teachers and the curriculum. But after deconstructing the matter, I realized that we are to blame. Our youth’s deficiency in intermediate math is a reflection of our inability to demonstrate basic addition. That ability has been highlighted in the outcome of the recent election.

After Trump was named president elect, I saw all kinds of responses, from acts of racism in academic institutes, violent backlash, to verbal slaying of both candidates and the system that they are a part of. I sit back and watch a very special equation play itself out: E+R=O, and realize that we are in serious trouble. Not only because of who will be sworn in shortly, but because of how we respond to adversity and what we are teaching our youth.

Event + Response = Outcome (Urban Mayer). This equation demonstrates that EVENTS happen to everyone. Contrary to popular belief, the OUTCOME of those EVENTS is based on your RESPONSE to the EVENT, not the EVENT itself.

“But wait, does that mean that if a terrible event happens to me, the outcome doesn’t have to be detrimental to my life or success?” Yes.

“Are you saying that the outcome depends on me? Because I’ve been through some tough circumstances Jonathan, I’ve been heart broken. I’ve been hurt. I’ve been betrayed. Are you saying that if I choose to respond in a healthy, strong, resilient way, the outcome is clear, I will trust, love, and be happy again; and don’t have to live a life of bitterness?” Yes.

The OUTCOME of anything that happens to you is dependant upon the way that you RESPOND. I am not saying that you don’t have a right to be bitter, sad, disappointed or upset. Those are all emotions that we all experience. I am reminding you that there are pairs of young eyes watching you, trying daily, to figure out the world, their place in it, and the “right” way to navigate through it. The RESPONSES that they see you demonstrate in the face of any EVENT whether good or bad, sets a foundation of how they will RESPOND themselves.

How many of us stopped trying to walk as an infant after we stumbled once or twice? What did you do after you fell off your bike? Did you grumble, complain and plan on moving to another country? Did you tell yourself, “this isn’t for me” or “I’m never doing this again”? Probably not. You probably, bandaged up those wounds and got back on. You probably persevered until you prospered. You probably tried until you reached success.

As we journey up the road called life, we may get cut off. We may get into an accident, or find ourselves low on gas. While driving through intense heat, the AC may break or we get a flat tire, etc, etc. Stuff happens. What is important is our response, especially when it is front of young impressionable minds. Get your math right; get your response right; GET AFTER IT!