What is Inside and Outside of our Control?

Knowing your circle of influence and concern helps you focus where it matters.

We have had countless conversations with turf managers across Australia and New Zealand in the first half of 2020 and the resounding themes have been around facing challenges beyond their control. Many have had sleepless nights, worry and anxiety connected to staff layoffs or stand-downs, Club and course closures, COVID-19 restrictions and the list goes on…just for 2020!

Understanding what is inside and outside of our personal, family and professional control is an important step to ensuring we are focusing our energy, preparation and concern in the right areas of our lives. When we worry constantly about aspects that we have little control or influence over, we are setting ourselves up for an unfair personal assessment of our performance.

In 1954, behavioural psychologist Julian Rotter identified a concept known as our locus of control – ‘the degree to which people believe that they, as opposed to external forces (beyond their influence), have control over the outcome of events in their lives’ (Psychological Monographs,1966). Rotter’s ideas highlighted that the more we judge ourselves by results from areas of our lives beyond or external to our control, we will find it difficult to truly relax or ‘switch off’ when at home with our families or on the weekend.

We will continue to be our own harshest critic and toughest judge. We continue to work harder and harder and worry more to try and influence the outcomes, often for little benefit or improved results. Going through the simple exercise of identifying what is in (our team, work programs, what we eat) and out (COVID-19, the weather, public opinion of our turf) of our control is a very powerful step in understanding how we can build resilience in these areas of our lives.

Inside our Control (Internal) – If we can control it – then do it! Plan, communicate, delegate, empower, support and execute! The most effective way to not worry about something is to get it done!

Outside our Control (External) – Understand and research the issue, consult with peers and your team, develop systems to prepare for and mitigate potential scenarios and communicate!

Once we have prepared thoroughly, understanding we cannot make it rain (though I bet you have tried!) but knowing we have done all in our power to mitigate the impacts of the worst-case scenario, can have a big impact on our mindset when not at work. As leaders, it is not up to us to pretend that everything is alright all the time (although it feels that way).

As we have all experienced this year, it has been pretty tough to provide our staff with a clear future of our work environment. With so many rapid changes, it may have felt difficult to be certain about any aspect of work! What we can do though, is be clear with our staff about what we can and cannot control and how we can best prepare for both elements. By sharing these plans with your team, you have the opportunity to reduce uncertainty, concern and scuttlebutt that can be damaging to team culture and effectiveness.

The Harvard Business Review highlights how ‘anxiety can be contagious’ and that ‘thanks to social media, you don’t need to be in physical contact with someone to catch an emotional infection’ (March 2020).

Our leadership during this time carries great responsibility as we have a significant ability to influence the mindset, health and well-being of those in our team.

Get help from our EHS compliance experts today!