After talking about How to let go of Control in last month’s blog, this month we’re going to look at taking back control.
Feeling like you are not in control is very common for business owners. The combination of long-term planning, daily tasks, and external factors can easily leave you spinning. The problem is that when we feel out of control we often overcompensate by trying to impose control on things that can’t be controlled. Needless to say, that isn’t productive.
The difficult thing is telling the difference, knowing where and on what to focus our energy and time.
That’s why I’d like to introduce you to the Circle of Influence. It’s a tool created by Stephen R. Covey and built on by others. Here’s an interesting quick video about it (External video – may contain advertising).
Everything that concerns you (or you are concerned about) is inside the circle of concern, but some of those things will be outside your control (in the example above ALL of them!). And that’s where the Circle of Influence comes in. Essentially the only thing you can influence is yourself, but of course through your actions you may also be able to influence others (to a certain degree). The trick is to know in what circle you’re operating. You should only spend your active time in the Circle of Influence, as that’s where you can make a difference.
Let’s use Brexit as an example. I know; I’m fed up of it as well, but it’s in nearly every business owner’s circle of concern (or should be) so I think it’s good to look at it.
There was a point when we had some influence over Brexit, and that was before the vote. So of course, you do whatever you can to influence the outcome (i.e. vote what you want for). However, after the vote, it’s largely out of your control (barring any mass protesting, I suppose) so there’s no point worrying about it. Because when you worry, you don’t take action, and when you don’t take action, you’re letting others control what happens to you.
So what can you do? What’s in your circle of influence?
Well, you can prepare. You can go through the possibilities of various scenarios and see if you’re able to deal with any or all of them.
For example, if you’re an exporter, what might the various Brexit options mean to you? If we end up on World Trade Organisation rules, what does that mean to your business? Do you know the Intrastat codes of your goods? How will the various border controls affect your shipments?
If you think there might be some economic fallout from Brexit, how might that affect you? Maybe if people start spending less or you’re having to pay more for your raw materials? Do a cost audit now to make sure that you are getting the best prices for everything and you’re only paying for what you need. Renegotiate utilities, insurance, business rates and anything else you spend money on.
Make sure that you’re as flexible as possible and able to adapt to any change in situation (see two previous blog posts: How to Cope with Change and How to Create a Flexible Workforce), so that you’re prepared whatever the outcome of Brexit.
You have a choice
Furthermore, you have a choice as to how you think about things. You can be pessimistic and believe that it’s the end of the world, or you can choose to be optimistic about it. How you think about it will make no difference to the outcome, but it will make a massive difference to how you feel. And as I always say: when you feel good, you are more creative, have more energy and take more actions; and those are all the ingredients for success.
So the old adage of hope for the best but prepare for the worst is very apt here.
Have you noticed the one thing you can always guarantee control of?
It’s you and your attitude. You can’t control other people or many other factors. But you can always control yourself and your reactions, and that will allow you to feel more in control.
• You can choose to see the threats or the opportunities.
• You can choose to be defeated or to keep fighting.
• You can choose to take action or not.
That last one is the crux of it. I see it all the time. When a business owner is overwhelmed, or even burnt out, they’re paralysed. This makes them feel even less in control, and so they lash out. They start to micromanage and blame. Of course, this makes it even worse. This is further relinquishing control.
A successful person never blames others for their failures and doesn’t take the credit for all their success. They realise that there’s teamwork involved, and they take responsibility for their actions.
You are the leader. Take responsibility, identify what you can control, and then take positive action and take back control.
And don’t be afraid to ask for help if you’re finding this difficult. That’s what a business coach is for. If you want to talk something through with me, feel free to request a free 30-minute business strategy session and I’ll be glad to help. Just email me or fill in the form on the Business Coaching page.