Posted 02 February 2016 by Chris Farmer
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Do You Have Influence or Control?
Last week, whilst conducting a leadership and management training course, I met a manager who told me how frustrating he found managing, since other people "would not do as they were told"; they kept "letting him down", and they "didn't listen" to him.
He asked me how he could stop this ongoing feeling that management is frustrating.
I replied "You need to make distinctions between three things:
- Things over which you do have control.
- Things over which you have no control, but over which you do have INFLUENCE.
- Things over which you have neither influence nor control."
Things over which you have CONTROL
There are some things over which you have control. But they are very few. You can control ONLY yourself. (And some people can't even manage that).
You can control some mechanical devices, such as a light switch or your car. (And some people do not seem to be able to manage their car!).
You can control only yourself. Nothing else is fully under your control.
Things over which you do have some INFLUENCE
There are many things over which you have some influence.
You may be able to influence the people in your family. You may be able to influence people in your close circle of friends.
But there are many people over which you have very little or no influence.
Things over which you have neither influence nor control
This is by far the largest set. You cannot influence nor control the weather, the traffic nor the actions of 7 billion other people on the planet.
You cannot much influence the Gods, the government or the economy.
The truth is you cannot influence many of the things that do have an influence on you, and as a result, you may sometimes feel that you are like the pinball in a pinball machine. Being bounced around the place by forces beyond your control.
This is indeed frustrating.
What can you do about it?
You can take your focus off all the things that you cannot control, or influence, and put your focus onto the things that you can control or influence.
My point is this: Concentrate and focus your forces onto the things that you can control.
The concept I want to leave in your mind is called:
Concentration of power
Focus first on improving your own performance.
Forget about trying to improve your boss.
Forget about trying to improve your friends. Or enemies. Or strangers.
Instead, focus only on improving your own thoughts, plans, actions, reactions and communications.
Put your mind where your mouth is.
You could do a lot with improved communications skills.
Secondly, I want to leave in your mind the concept called:
Control verses influence
Put your attention only onto those things you can influence. You can influence some events. You can influence some people.
- Influence some events by planning ahead and perfectly executing the plans.
- Influence the small number of people whom you can; your kids, your close friends and colleagues. Influence them by careful communication of a clear message.
Thirdly: the third concept I would like you to remember is called:
Facts come first
Facts are facts, whether you like them or not.
You have to work with the world the way it IS. Not with the way you think it should be. So, stop thinking about the billion things you cannot change. And work with the dozen things you can.
Accept the facts you cannot change
Treat these things as, THE FACTS of the case. You cannot control them. You cannot influence them. Irrespective of whether you like them or not, these are the facts you need to deal with.
When you are clear about which things you cannot influence nor control, don't keep worrying about them.
Work with the things you can control, ie yourself.
- Distinguish between situations you can control and influence, and those over which you have NO control or influence.
- Accept and work with the facts you cannot change.
- Concentrate and Focus your forces onto the things that you can control.
- Then you won't feel frustrated but rather, you will feel empowered.