Last Friday, in Ireland at least, was Daffodil Day – drawing our attention to the big C – Cancer, not Covid. 

Cancer affects most families. That same morning on LinkedIn there was a post that began with: “As I await the results of biopsy number 3 “.  The woman’s post reminded me of Christmas 1995 when I spent two weeks awaiting the results of a biopsy.  A tough and lonely two weeks. 

    When you’re in a situation like that you can’t control the results.  You can’t influence the result.

    It’s a stark reminder of something I first heard about 30 years ago from Stephen Covey’s writings on proactivity.  He encouraged us to focus on what we can influence rather than what we are concerned about.

    You can influence things, e.g., your kids’ behaviour.  Your employee’s behaviour.

    But you can’t control their behaviour – not unless you bully them.

    There are lots of things you are concerned about.  There are less things that you can influence.  And there are less things again that you can control.  But there are things that you control – one of them being your reaction.

    You can control whether and how you react to stimuli.

    Last week I got an upsetting email.  I chose not to respond to it.  Instead, I wrote in my diary about it.  And reflected on it while I went for a jog at lunchtime.  Both of those improved my mood. 

   Do you use Spotify’s shuffle feature to play random songs for you that you like?  During that jog, one of the songs that came up for me was the Eagles and “Already Gone“.  Typically, I pay no attention to lyrics, but one phrase caught my attention:

    “So often times it happens that we live our lives in chains
And we never even know we have the key

    You’re flesh and blood.  This means that soon, a supplier or a customer or an employee or someone you engage with in business will make you upset or disappointed or angry.

    But you’re not a prisoner to your feelings.  You’re not in chains because of your feelings.  You have the “key” to choose to react as you see fit. 

    Covey said it more than 30 years ago.  But it wasn’t his idea.  The idea of focusing on what you can control is ancient – part of the philosophy of Stoicism that’s over 2,000 years old.  You can carry the tradition forward!

If you want a business confidante supporting you, ensuring you continuously define and then do what you can control, email me and let’s see if I can help you.