Control Framework

Have you ever struggled with something that did not want to go to where you were aiming for? Or some you felt that you were constantly reacting to external things and had no time for your own plans? Everyone probably has. There are two small frameworks that can help you identify when this is happening – and get going again. One step at a time.

As humans, we have the unique ability to act, to think about what we will do between stimulus and response. If you are happy and accidentally bump into your neighbour, “sorry” will be the most likely response. But when you are having a bad day, “ugh” would be more likely. The first framework is best explained by Stephen R. Covey:

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space lies our freedom and power to choose our response. In those choices lie our growth and our happiness.”

If we are aware of the freedom to choose our response, the second step is to identify when to do what:

  1. Direct control
  2. Indirect control (influence)
  3. No control (concern)

Direct control has to do with the response we ourself can give. Here we can directly choose to react differently. By changing your behaviour you will actually be able to influence your attitude (try sitting upright for 10 minutes – do you feel the confidence?). Of course, you are not always able (or willing) to change your behaviour, but it is always a possibility.

Indirect control is about the responses of the people around you, people with whom you have a personal connection. If you keep positively affirming a friend, their belief in their own capacity will grow. The influence, however, is indirect, you cannot look inside the head of your friends and your influence, therefore, is limited.

No control lies in situations where, whatever you do, the situation will not change. Screaming at the presenter on television or extensively worrying about things happening on the news will not change anything. It is these kinds of situation that you should divert the least amount of energy to. And yes, it can sometimes be a relief to scream at the television, but it will not lead to change.

Circle of Concern, Circle of Control

Think for yourself on what level your behaviour falls, are you focussing on your direct circle of control or more on no control situation. Sometimes by doing less, you can do more. When keep barking up the wrong tree, your energy will be wasted. If you work with your direct and indirect circle of influence – your energy will grow. You will become proactive – one step at a time.

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