There’s a lot of uncertainty at the moment. If you’ve experienced work or projects being cancelled, gigs being cancelled, concern around the coronavirus pandemic, your health and the health of your family / friends and the impact this could have on the music industry moving forward then you’re not alone. This is totally normal and if you’re anything like me, it also means that your mind-set can be difficult to manage and sometimes those worries or concerns can take over and make it very difficult to focus on anything else.
I want to share a really simple tool that I have used actively for the last 10 years – it’s made a big difference to controlling those thoughts / feelings and shifting into a much more useful mind-set. The idea is to explore what you can and can’t control. Stephen Covey created this very simple model and it explores what you can control. There are 2 circles in this model, one within the other.
Circles of concern and influence
The outer circle is designed to hold all the things that concern you but that you have no control over. This is the circle of CONCERN, my circle of concern includes external events we’re experiencing at the moment such as the coronavirus pandemic, people not sticking to lockdown rules, how other people behave in various situations or the cancellation of my upcoming performances etc.
The inner circle holds all the things you can do something about. This is the circle of INFLUENCE and will be smaller, but includes things you can control or have some influence over e.g. building social media presence, hosting virtual performances, designing a website, practicing and building new skills like recording or video editing.
Choosing where to focus your energy
If you live in the outer circle of concern obsessing over external events, you’re focusing your energy on things beyond your control. This is a very reactive, emotional place to be and your actions are likely to be wasted as you have very little influence over the outcome of these things. The more time you spend in this circle, the more this outer circle grows and your valuable circle of influence shrinks
If you live in the inner circle of influence, however, you’re focusing your energy, time and action on stuff you can influence which means you’ll be able to be proactive in making effective changes and achieve great outcomes. You get to take charge. The more time you spend in the circle of influence, the larger the circle becomes and the smaller the outer circle of concern becomes.
I use this model whenever I find myself losing sleep over something or worrying a lot or stressing about something that’s happening. This makes it easier for me to make positive changes and also to just ACCEPT some things that you just can’t change.
I’ll simply ask myself: can I control or influence any element of this? If the answer is no then I give myself permission to LET IT GO and stop focusing on it, which has a positive effect on my wellbeing.
If the answer is yes, then I get to work thinking about what I can do to make a change to that situation… After all, if you’re not changing a situation, you’re choosing it. It’s okay to be afraid at the moment — we all are — but understanding where to focus our thoughts, actions and energy can help us more clearly navigate these uncertain times.
You can download our free template which contains the circles of concern and influence, and a little bit around how to use them. Why not take 10 minutes to note down all the things that are going round your mind at the moment and try to categorise them. Do they sit within your circle of concern? Or your circle of influence? For those in your circle of influence, what are the priorities?
We’d love to hear your thoughts.
Have you ever tried to use a model like these circles of concern and influence? How do you manage your mindset in times like these? Let me know in the comments below!
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