“The problems we face fall in one of three areas: direct control (problems involving our own behavior); indirect control (problems involving other people’s behavior); or no control (problems we can do nothing about, such as our past or situational realities). The proactive approach puts the first step in the solution of all three kinds of problems with our present Circle of Influence.
DIRECT CONTROL problems are solved by working on our habits. They are obviously within our Circle of Influence. These are the ‘Private Victories’ of Habits 1, 2, and 3.
INDIRECT CONTROL problems are solved by changing our methods of influence. These are the ‘Public Victories’ of Habits 4, 5, and 6. I have personally identified over 30 separate methods of human influence—as separate as empathy is from confrontation, as separate as example is from persuasion. Most people have only three or four of these methods in their repertoire, starting usually with reasoning, and, if that doesn’t work, moving to flight or fight. How liberating it is to accept the idea that I can learn new methods of human influence instead of constantly trying to use old ineffective methods to ‘shape up’ someone else!
NO CONTROL problems involve taking the responsibility to change the line on the bottom on our face—to a smile, to genuinely and peacefully accept these problems and learn to live with them, even though we don’t like them. In this way, we do not empower these problems to control us. We share in the spirit embodied in the Alcoholics Anonymous prayer, ‘Lord, give me the courage to change the things which can and ought to be changed, the serenity to accept the things which cannot be changed, and the wisdom to know the difference.’
Whether a problem is direct, indirect, or no control, we have in our hands the first step to the solution. Changing our habits, changing our methods of influence, and changing the way we see our no control problems are all within our Circle of Influence.
Comments this week are stories concerning Covey’s Control discussion. I had no control over the situations, but through my behavior, communication, and facts I was able to accomplish my goal in each situation.
Story one concerns a plant manager that became my boss shortly after I arrived in Dow’s Indianapolis office. Coming from Sales Harry wasn’t really sure about me (plant employees are ‘oil and water’ with sales employees). He didn’t trust me so I had to build trust. Initially he avoided me (no eye contact, no one-on-ones, etc.). One day, to my surprise, he invited me to lunch, and at that lunch his demeanor changed. He went from lacking trust to trusting me. I had proven myself to him.
Story two concerns two politicians who had developed opinions that would negatively affect a project I was working on. I met with each one separately, asked why they were opposed to my project, and then I proceeded to tell them what I had done over a 3-year period to reach the conclusions I had reached. At the end of both meetings the response was the same; they no longer opposed what I was recommending, but would remain neutral until more details were announced.
Direct, Indirect, and No control creates great experiences, and increases knowledge of individual behavior. It’s quite fascinating.
Habit 1 Be Proactive
Principles Of Personal Vision
Expanding The Circle Of Influence