Many events seem totally out of our control; and that’s for good reason. Some things just are.
After Monday’s election results my heart was filled with sadness over the great division Canada is currently experiencing. The East against the West. The urban cities against the rural communities. The Liberals against the Conservatives. Most Canadians thought the election campaigns, the “ugliest” in history, created a divided nation. I have to agree. People were picking apart others’ flaws and parties’ platforms and policies. Overall, as Canadians we should be grateful to live in a country which gives us the greatest freedom to choose and feel in control of our choices. Where we live – where we work – where we worship – who we love – what we do – all rest with us.
|Hail-beaten canola swaths|
The concerns for most farmers now are focused on completing this year’s harvest and crossing the “Finish Line”. The heavy frosts, shortened days, and definitely cooler temperatures do not permit the grain to dry down a smidgen. Peace of mind and logic dictates what’s in our control and what’s not. As they wrestle with the adverse weather conditions, farmers feel pinned down. However, the hail, rain, and snow which delayed the harvest were out of everyone's control.
We fret; we whine; we stew; maybe we even plot an inappropriate course of action in the face of our problems. People who are smarter than I am, shine a fresh perspective on a better way of dealing with problems. In his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen R. Covey spells out effective life principles.
This list of habits falls under the separate umbrella of Private Victory, Public Victory, and Renewal.
Habit 1: Be Proactive (Principles of Personal Vision)
Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind (Principles of Personal Leadership)
Habit 3: Put First Things First (Principles of Personal Management)
Habit 4: Think Win/Win (Principles of Interpersonal Leadership)
Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood (Principles of Empathetic Communication)
Habit 6: Synergize (Principles of Creative Cooperation)
Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw (Principles of Balanced Self Renewal)
Dr. Covey identifies our Circle of Concern and Circle of Influence. Like he mentions, “We each have a wide range of concerns-our health, our children, problems at work, the national debt, nuclear war.” But he wisely states, “As we look at those things within our Circle of Concern, it becomes apparent that there are some things over which we have no real control and others that we can do something about. We could identify those concerns in the latter group by circumscribing them with a smaller Circle of Influence.”
He explains in detail the best way to handle our problems is to first identify them by appropriately placing them in their respective area: direct, indirect, or no control.
Stephen R. Covey writes:
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 “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 of our face – to 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.
His summation and encouragement are helpful when we face any problems-financial or otherwise. Dr. Covey has given me food for thought to use when I am in a fretful state. My hope is this assists you too.