Very often, this discussion leads to a reminder to “sort the pile” into the part of the conflict or problem that I (or the member) has some control over and ability to influence, and that part over which we have no power to change. And then, it leads to thinking about “my” part… because the reality is that I only have control over my own part.
In a previous article, I discussed Stephen Covey’s book, “7 Habits of Highly Effective People.” Covey’s teachings included that we have a Circle of Concern (all the things we care about and might be worried about), a Circle of Influence (those things that we might have some ability to influence or make changes) and the Circle of Control (the part over which we have complete ability and authority to make decisions).
When I first read about the Circle of Control, I saw these circles as bubbles, one inside the other… I got to really thinking deeply about what was within my control.
Hmmmmm…. Well, I can probably influence my children, but I don’t really have the ability to control them.
And I can possibly influence my beloved, but heaven knows I can’t control the one I love the most either.
Perhaps I can influence my co-workers or my customers, or my boss, or someone who works in another department… or maybe not…
So… thinking about it this way, it looks like there’s not really much that I can change or control in a difficult situation.
But there is one very important factor in every situation in which I’m involved— and that factor is ME and the AIR in my bubble.
In any given situation, I have control over three important things:
1. My Actions (A) – the things I do.
2. My Inactions (I) – the things I DON’T do.
3. My Reactions (R)- the way I react to what others do or don’t do.
When Stephen Covey created those “bubbles“- the Circle of Concern, the Circle of Influence, and the Circle of Control, I started to figure out that the only thing I really had the ability to control was that smallest bubble- the Circle of Control. In that bubble was all that I could choose to do. Thinking about the AIR in my bubble helps me remember to breathe before acting and to CHOOSE a good Action, Inaction, or Reaction rather than just impulsively, reactively, or habitually fall into the same pattern that had contributed to the problem in the first place. Remembering I had the choice of the AIR in my bubble helped me to “sort the pile” and recognize my own power to make a positive difference.
Now, in my life, I see that these two life lessons- (1) sorting the pile and (2) the AIR in my bubble– have been part of the answer to all of my problems.
What is the AIR in my bubble?
Well, it makes a bit more sense if we actually pick a problem to look at and run through this formula. Sorry for math references, but at my heart, I’m both a scientist and a spiritualist. Let’s say the problem is with a co-worker not doing something that I think they ought to be doing.
–What are my choices?
Well, I can sort the pile and figure out first what is within my ability to control, influence or change, and what is not within my ability to control, influence, or change. I can’t change my co-worker. I also can’t change my boss’s reactions to my co-worker. There are about a billion other things I can’t change. But I can change the AIR in my bubble.