Lessons in Leadership: Focusing Your Energy By Understanding What is Within Your Control – Part 2 of 3

Lessons in Leadership: Focusing Your Energy By Understanding What is Within Your Control – Part 2 of 3

In the previous post, Focusing Your Energy, we discussed how our energy levels can be affected by our attitude and by our actions. But how do we protect ourselves from negative energy drains?

By understanding what is within our control and what is not.

The Areas of Control

There are certain things in your life you can control. Let’s consider your work life for a moment. Aren’t there choices you make for yourself and by yourself?

Here are some examples of the things every person controls as it relates to work:

  1. Attitude – No one can make us happy or unhappy. We choose happiness or unhappiness for ourselves.
  2. Being Prompt – No one can make us late for work. Sure, occasionally something unusual happens, like an unprecedented accident, but normally if we plan to leave early enough we are on time.
  3. Accepting Change – Things change. If we are going to accomplish our goals we must change as well. No one can make us change. Someone can encourage or even threaten us to change, but we make the choice for ourselves.
  4. Having a Plan – The skills and benefits of effective planning develop out of the personal desire for improvement and success. Others may require you to plan, but whether your plan is useful and continuous or useless and sporadic is up to you. It’s another choice we all make for ourselves.

The Areas of Influence

There are certain things and people at work you may influence. There is certainly more you can influence than control. Influence is the act of encouraging others to view things and do things based on your deductions, feelings, and recommendations. Sometimes you may even influence others to participate in the activities or emotions in which you would like them to engage. You influence situations and people with your thoughts, feelings, and actions. In other words, you can actually influence situations and other people with your attitude. You can influence them for the better, or you can influence them for the worse. Why is this important for you to know? Because we believe you have more influence than you sometimes realize.

Some examples of a person’s possible influences at work are:

  1. Peers – We can make it easier or more difficult for others to work through their own day.
  2. Situations – We make our situation better or worse depending on the attitude we choose for ourselves.
  3. Success – We achieve a lot or a little depending on the plans, attitudes, and choices we make at work.
  4. Customers – We influence others to trust and work with us or to doubt us and even work against us. We do this with our attitude and behavior.

The Area of No Control

The largest area is the area of no control. You have neither control nor influence over people and things in this area. Sometimes you may wish you had control or influence over some of these things. You may even become frustrated or angry when things don’t go the way you want them to. But the fact remains these are people and situations of no control.

Here are some examples of things people probably have little or no control over at work:

  1. Company policy or procedure – There are occasions when input is asked for by the senior leadership of a company, but for the most part, the creation of company policy and procedure is out of our control.
  2. Someone else’s attitude – No matter how much we feel for them and how much we’d like to help, someone else’s attitude is really his or her own choice. This is also true with customers, even when we are only trying to help. Each person decides what his or her attitude will be.
  3. Compensation plans – Obviously compensation plan and benefit changes can lead to some people becoming bothered or concerned. On occasion, some employees may even attempt to prevent or influence the change from occurring. Still, with rare exceptions, this is an area of no control.
  4. Job Descriptions / Work Responsibilities – Sometimes job responsibilities change. Whenever things like the economy, our customers, our business, or our competition change we also may need to change. Defining the needs or work requirements of our role with the company is definitely an area of no personal control for many of us.

Once you are able to understand that some things are within your control, other things are only within your influence, and many things are not within your control, you need a plan for handling these three situations. In our next post, we will give you that plan.

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