Situation + Reaction = Outcome.

2019-09-26 Situation Reaction Outcome

Those words are written on the top right-hand corner of the whiteboard in my office.  I read them every day as a reminder that how we react to situations determine the outcome.  Never have I heard of anyone implementing those words so perfectly as I just did in a phone conversation with one of my closest friends.  One of those “brothers” who came out of that small corner of the freshman football locker room at Toms River High School North 40 years ago. One of the teammates and lifelong friends I referenced in a blog just a few weeks back, had a situation that he turned into a terrific outcome.

Situation:  After 25 very successful years with his company, a company with over 22,000 employees worldwide, he had risen to the position of Regional Vice President.  In the past fiscal year, he was the company’s third-ranked Regional Vice President in the world.  During the week marking the anniversary of his 25 years with the company, he was called in by the President and Human Resources Director and told that the company was eliminating his position.

Reaction:  Instead of being angry, resentful or bitter, he drew on his football and life experiences to craft the perfect response.  As a high school football coach for decades, he has taught his players to overcome adversity, difficulty, and tragedy in their lives.  Now it was his turn.  He informed the President and HR Director that he had been blessed to work for the company for 25 years.  That he was grateful for all he had learned during his tenure. Then… he took it to another level.   He offered to pay back the company by volunteering to stay on for one year at no pay, only requesting they cover his business expenses, so that he can serve his regional sales team and customers during the transition.

Outcome:  After wiping away tears, the HR Director offers him to stay on the remainder of the year at full pay and a re-positioning anywhere in the company in 2020.

In Victor Frankl’s book, Man’s Search for Meaning,” the author, a holocaust survivor who endured three grueling years in Nazi concentration camps, states “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

The adversity players endure in a high school athletic career most certainly pales in comparison to a holocaust survivor, and often times pales in comparison to the challenges and struggles we endure decades after hanging up our helmets and cleats. But the lessons we hope to have taken away from our experiences (as displayed by my friend), and in turn those we try to convey to our players today; are lessons of dignity, respect, grace, and the ability to choose with character and integrity in the space between stimulus and response…

As I have told players for years, “the hand that gives gathers.”

Coach Rich Alercio is available to discuss coaching philosophy, X’s & O’s, or teach his O-Line “techniques in the trenches.” Contact Coach at and share with your colleagues and friends. Thanks for supporting this blog and joining our conversations, and as always, thanks for your time!

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