Focus on what you can control or influence, let go of the rest

Following on from last week’s blog, “It’s s**t, I feel s**tty, but it’s OK to feel s**tty, it’s normal , this week I want to focus on what we can start to do about it. 

Once I acknowledged that I feel s**t, and after a bit of licking of my wounds and feeling sorry for myself, I’m now trying to put all the things in place I can to help me, my family, my teams and my businesses come through this as best we can. I started  to focus on what I could control, or influence, so that was my next observation:  

Observation No.2 - Focus on what you can control or influence, let go of the rest

This reminded me of a tool Stephen Covey first talked about in The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, The Circle of Control: 


The model quite simply helps us identify what we have concerns about, some of which we can influence and some of which we can control. Spending time worrying about the things that concern us that we have no influence or control over will zap our energy and our wellbeing. Trying to influence something, may result in you getting the desired outcome but doesn’t guarantee it, and you can spend a lot of energy getting there. Whereas, the things we can ultimately control are the things we should spend most of our physical and emotional energy on as this will ultimately make the most difference.

A Practical Example

We did the above exercise as a business as part of our own business survival planning. Here’s some of what showed up:


This is not an exhaustive list, but it highlights some key issues that required us to pivot our offer. 


We cannot expect the great employers engaged in our trial to convert into delegates in our full research programme, that carries a fairly high ticket price, in fact for a while we probably can’t expect them to want to pay for much at all. That’s outside our control. We cannot predict or influence how the economy will be at the end of all this. 


We can apply for grants, and we are currently awaiting the outcome of one of those that could really help a lot of people get back on their feet. We can only influence this by putting in our best application. We cannot control the assessment process though. We can be there for our clients and help them through this, but we ultimately can’t stop what is happening to them. 


We can reduce our costs sharply and defer expenditure, this is 100% ours and we can make those tough decisions, and we have. 

More importantly, we can try to add value to our customers and support their employees who are feeling vulnerable, tired and stressed. So that’s the key thing we focussed on, we completely pivoted our offer from a fully immersive experience to being a content-led Covid-19 time-specific support service for employees who need it. Within one week of lockdown, we had a strawman of a 10-week daily programme we could talk to employers about. Within two weeks it was launched, today it is helping around 100 people and around 100 more are in the process of signing up. We’re not making the money we would like, but we are adding incredible value. Note up to this point, we haven’t even publicly announced it either.  

I have demonstrated in this exercise a business problem, but one that was worrying me personally. Quite frankly though, I’ve been too busy delivering it and getting positive emotions from it to let the worry monsters in!  

So, why not try your own circles, what could you focus on that you could control? Maybe your health and mental wellbeing could be at the top of that list.  

Next week I’m going to talk about how this period of reflection has seriously adjusted my life goals. 

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