How often do you stress or worry about things that haven’t happened yet? What about issues which you have no control over? We all do it. Because, to some extent, we all want control. It might be total control or it could just be the opportunity to influence an outcome. So how do you remove or, at the very least, reduce the time you spend concerning yourself with uncontrollable issues? I’ve got an idea.
You’ve probably heard of the circle or sphere of control. Well let’s have a look at unpacking that.
Think of three concentric circles. Better yet, see below for a graphic depiction!
The inner circle relates to those things which are within our control. The issues in life for which we have answers for. The issues we don’t have to rely on anyone else to take care of. This is the space everyone loves playing within. It’s easy. It’s predictable.
The second circle, the circle of influence, requires a different skillset for issues to be resolved. Note my use of the word ‘resolved’ rather than ‘controlled’. Some of life’s issues which sit within this sphere might be getting that business case approved to introduce sleep pods into your workplace or getting that pay rise. It’s not going to be easy, but it’s not impossible. It’s going to require you to have a clear plan and to influence the decision makers. To sell. To tell a remarkable story.
Now the final circle, the sphere of concern. You should be getting the picture by now, this area of your life is virtually impossible to control. Strangely enough though, this is where many of us spend a lot of our time. Especially those small hours of the night. We wake up randomly, sometimes in a cold sweat, and we worry.
So often in these moments we either have no control over the outcome, or are unable to resolve in that moment.
So maybe next time you wake up at 3am and your mind starts racing, stop for a moment and think of the circles. Can you influence the outcome? If yes, then compartmentalise the issue into the appropriate circle and decide your course of action. If not, and it’s completely out of your control then forget it, roll over and go back to sleep!
Or maybe, just maybe, there’s another option. The beauty of the model is that it can work in both directions. Even for the stuff in life that’s completely out of our control, we have the ability to influence certain, even minute, aspects. It may not seem like it, but even the smallest voice can sway a room. A room full of people can influence a town. A town a city. A city a country.
If you don’t believe me, then I’ll let Obama tell you…