The Math We All Need

Normally, we host a campfire ‘talk’ on the blog each Friday Night. As we’ve all been cooped up, we’ve been enjoying these talks together on our Weequahic Families Facebook Page. (Please join us if you’ve not done so already!)

And, just in case you’d rather read than listen, I thought the talks should go on the blog, too. Enjoy!

A Little Math

Alright, campers. You’ve been doing online school for a while now. Let’s test your math skills.

What’s this equation? A2 + B2 = C2 . That’s right: the Pythagoreum theorem.

How about this one?  E=mc2. Yes, Einstein’s special theory of relativity.

Ok, I know – too much math. I’m a camp director and didn’t do anything past calculus. (And I barely got past that!) Let’s talk about an equation that is even more useful. In fact, its the source of a LOT and LOT and LOT of people’s success. Are you ready?

E + R^p = O

E stands for ‘Event.’ By that, I mean anything that happens to you in reality OR in your head. And, when you think about it, most of the stuff that happens in our head – what we project in the future – is not nearly as bad as we thought it was going to be. 

A very wise man said the same thing a long time ago:

I am an old man and have known many troubles but most of them never happened.

Mark Twain

Events happen to you. You have very little control on them.  And, they happen to EVERYONE. Doesn’t matter if you are Beyonce, LeBron James, or Tom Brady. It could rain on your trip day. Your campfire might not light. That person you thought was going to be a friend said something really mean to you. She didn’t text you back. He didn’t treat you the way you wanted to be treated.  Your printer runs out of ink. You may win the lottery. You will probably NEVER win the lottery.

So, those are events. The big E. They happen to everyone. Now, let’s talk about the R in this formula. What do you think it is?

I’ll give you a hint: the ‘R’ in this formula is the BIGGEST, MOST IMPORTANT reason behind your success and your failure. And, it’s also the ONLY thing in this whole equation that you have TOTAL control over.

‘R’ is for Response

Do you get mad or do you get even? Do you say ‘Oh… woe is me or that’s not fair, But he…. But she…. But I didn’t do it.

It’s ok to be like this. Almost everyone is. It’s habit – a default setting you have built for yourself by doing it over and over and over again.

Or, do you choose to be different? Do you instead look at that event and say Ok…. How can I use this, learn from it or make this better?

When we arrived at Camp Weequahic 12 summers ago, I had several people who were very successful camp directors tell me ‘don’t do it.’ It’s too far gone. We only had 120 campers. The facility was not in good shape.

But we saw something different – something we could work with. A depth of tradition, an amazing set of ‘bones’ on which to build a community in which kids and staff revel and play and laugh and experience joy.

The Power of Principles

See that little ‘p’ over the ‘R?’ It’s a little thing that governs the reactions you show on a daily basis: your principles.

Now, I’m not talking about your middle or high school principal. Instead, I’m talking about a fundamental truth or proposition that serves as the foundation for a system of belief or behavior or for a chain of reasoning.

For example, always being honest is a principle. So are:

  • The more your focus, the more you’ll see.
  • Gratefulness causes the realization of the bounty around you.
  • Courage grows the more you use it.
  • You are the sum of all your training.  

Your reactions – whether they are mental, physical or emotional – are all governed by your principles: that system of belief that serves as a your foundation.

And they are a small thing. Speaking of small things, I’ve got a question for you. Would you rather have $1mm right now or a penny that doubles every day for a month? The $1mm is a lot of money, isn’t it? And, at first blush, I’d be you’d want to take it over that little doubling penny. But, you’d be wrong.

That small penny doubles and doubles and doubles until it’s worth $10.7mm in just 31 days.

It’s the small things that matter. It’s the principles you choose to live by that matter. Your reactions are what matter. Your parents cannot choose these for you. Neither can your teacher, your coach, your minister, your rabbi, or your camp director. We can show you and teach you and mentor you. But, ultimately, you have to choose. And you show the world the choice you’ve made through your day to day, hour to hour actions.

So the ‘E’ stands for Events, the ‘R’ stands for Response, and the ‘p’ for Principles. What does the ‘O’ stand for?


You can’t complete control the outcome. Why? Because you cannot control the event. You can influence the heck out of it, though, by choosing the principles by which you lead your life wisely and then determining your response.

Here’s the funny thing: the outcome really doesn’t matter as much as you think it will. Think about winning something really awesome: a championship or the first place ribbon or whatever else. The shine on that trophy, the sheen on that ribbon… they wear off pretty quickly. You’ll be on to other things that captivate, motivate, and interest you very soon.

Don’t worry about the outcome much. Control what you can control: your response and the principles that guide it, and you’ll be able to tackle any event with dexterity, deftness, and determination.

Have a great week!

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