Focus On What You Can Control

In my recent coaching sessions with my team, we've been discussing how there is only certain things that we can personally control in any given situation. Experiencing worry, fear,and frustration when people say or do things (or don't do things) that seem to make a situation worse is normal. Dwelling on these feelings and trying to control how others behave is a waste of energy and time. Remembering to focus on what you can control is a key discipline for a successful life and career. In my experience there are four things that I can control in any situation.

My Thoughts - The human mind is amazing in so many ways for it has the ability to store millions of thoughts, ideas, and memories. This is why we must guard what we think about and allow ourselves to be influenced by. Our thoughts are the foundation for our attitude, words, and actions. Often our thoughts get the best of us when we lose perspective and begin the downward spiral of negative thinking and fear. One of the best ways to guard your mind is to be very aware of what you are listening to, watching, and reading. The saying, "garbage in - garbage out" is very true.

Attitude - Research shows that attitude begins to suffer when there is a lack of sleep, higher stress levels at work, or from lack of exercise and unhealthy eating. When I need to work on my attitude I will often get away, by myself, to spend time in prayer and meditation and remind myself of the blessings in my life. I also use this time to review my Life Plan and personal Business Vision. Doing this brings me back to my life purpose and vision for my career. Its important for all of us to identify these types of unique actions or experiences to help us have better perspective and improve our attitude.

Words - The words that come out of my mouth are owned by me. I'm the guy that often says, “Oh I wish I would not have said that”. My wife frequently reminds me "Filter Dan! Filter!" We all have the power to use words that will make a situation worse, calm one heading towards disaster, or bring encouragement to a situation that appears to have no hope. Often the words we use are a reflection of our attitude and thoughts. The most powerful phrases can be summed up in three words or less, "I love you, I miss you, I'm sorry, I forgive you, Great job". Dedicate a day to listen to the words you’re using and the tone of your voice. Observe the body language of those listening to you. You might be surprised just how powerful your words are and why self-control in this area is so important.

Actions - Actions do speak louder than words and can overpower our thoughts and attitude. When my attitude is poor and my thoughts are negative, I make a conscious choice to do the right thing and say the right words to positively impact any negativity surrounding me. No matter how we are feeling, what we are thinking, or the words we want to say; we have a choice as to how we react to a situation. There are two things that I've learned when it comes to controlling my actions. The first is that I often need to pause before responding to allow for clarity and perspective. The second is that I often just need to act regardless of how I'm feeling. You might pause, gain clarity, and know what you need to do but still be thinking and feeling that you don’t want to do it. Sometimes you just have to act. Runners experience this when they are in a marathon; it’s called “hitting the wall”. When runners hit their “wall” they have to keep running and eventually their body adjusts and they break through the "wall" and are able to find their groove and finish the race.

If you find yourself worrying and expending a lot of energy trying to change someone in the areas listed above, stop! If they are not willing to change you will not be able to make them. Move on and focus on what you can control. When you do this you'll be much happier and you'll have greater peace in stressful and challenging times.

Make it a great day!