13th May13th 2020
Take Back Control

Think of three concentric circles: the inner one is called the Circle of Control, the middle one the Circle of Influence and the outer one ther Circle of Concern (other names are also used, so you can choose your own if you wish :)

The inner one represents the things you control directly. For example, you can control when you get up, what you have for lunch and when you start working. The outer circle of the three represents the things you cannot control at all. Things like the weather, the date of your birthday or the rate of taxation, none of which you can change. The third circle lies between the other two, and represents the things that you cannot change yourself, but which you could potentially influence. For example, if you apply for a job, you do not make the decision whether to hire you! But you can do a lot to make a positive outcome more likely: by researching the company, preparing interesting questions, arriving early, speaking respectfully, and so on. You can't guarantee the result you want, but you make it more possible.

What is the relevance of this idea? Well, in difficult circumstances you can be effective in all three circles, even in situations you can't change:

- in the inner circle, make sure that you do actually take a grip of things that you control; don't let others control it and don't ignore where you have this control, perhaps because you are anxious;

- in the middle circle, you have influence even if you don't make the decision. Therefore, what could you do proactively to encoourage, persuade, research, negotiate to get your view and your perspective across. Make more things go your way!

- Finally, in the outer circle, you have all the things that are happening to you without your agreement or influence. Here you have no direct control, except in one key area: you can control how you respond. If someone chooses to treat you unfairly, you could get angry or upset, but neither would change anything. Change your response and the person who treated you unfairly could well come off the worse, because his behaviour did not impact you in the way he hoped.

Problems occur in all three circles when you don't engage fully: for example, when you allow something you can control to get out of hand, when you fail to exert your view in a situation you could influence, or when you react to an outside situation in a way that creates even more stress, fear or anxiety.

So think about how you respond to any situation that you face today, and aim to take back control: