Control versus Influence

Epictetus, one of the great Stoics, already said

“The chief task in life is simply this: to identify and separate matters so that I can say clearly to myself which are externals not under my control, and which have to do with the choices I actually control.

This is still true today.

In a 2-day workshop on the topic of “Lateral Leadership” last year, I got introduced to the Circle of Influence and Control. Originally created by Stephen Covey and covered in his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, it helps us to focus on what matters.

The three circles are mutually exclusive:

  1. What we control are things like our words, our food, our mood, our actions, our thoughts or the output of our work.

  2. What we influence are things like our family, the outcome of our work, other people’s choices, our close surroundings or who reads this blog post.

  3. The things we may be concerned about are politics, traffic, results of a sports match, comments and actions from a stranger, where we were born or the outbreak of a pandamic.

We have to remind ourselfs of what we can control and influence to shift our focus away from what’s just a concern.

What we truly control is fixed. We can expand what we influence. We can’t do much about the rest.

Focus on what you control and influence.

Nils Neubauer @nilsneubauer