If we consider focus as a tool then our task becomes improving our skills in using the tool of focus. Yesterday I shared 5 core skills we need to use focus more effectively.
Another core skills to master with respect to focus is awareness of where we are directing our focus. Just putting a lens on a camera doesn’t take a good picture; you need to point the camera in the direction of what you wish to capture.
Where focus goes, energy flows. — Tony Robbins
When it comes to where we direct our focus, there are many options:
For example, we can focus on problems or what’s great, reasons to be disappointed or reasons to celebrate, what we got done today or what we didn’t get done today.
The Influence/Control Model
One of my favorite frames for honing focus is the Influence/Control model, which I learned from Tony Robbins’ Time of Your Life program. This is an audio program that I return to repeatedly when I need a refresher on the fundamentals.
The Influence/Control Model delineates 3 categories where we might be directing our focus.
- what you can control
- what you can influence
- what you cannot influence or control
I like how Tony presents it as a bulls-eye target, as it presents a great visual for understanding where we want to direct our focus.
Where are you directing your focus?
The ultimate waste of time is to waste your thoughts, your focus, and your emotions stressed out about things you cannot control. — Tony Robbins
What You Can Control
The most narrow category is things you can control. This category is smaller than you would like to believe.
Although we like to think we can control events, circumstances, and people, any appearance of such control is an illusion.
The only things you have absolute control over are:
– your emotional response to whatever happens
– the meaning you give to whatever happens
– your actions and behaviors
As an example, take COVID. Is it a nightmare, the worst thing that has ever happened, the greatest opportunity in a generation? You get to control what it means for you.
One of the biggest sources of frustration and stress comes from thinking we can control someone or something.
What You Can Influence
There are things that you cannot control, but that you can influence. You may have influence over other people’s actions, if they work for you or depend on you (though likely less than you think, so beware).
Perhaps you can influence another person’s decision or the direction of some events.
What You Cannot Influence or Control
The largest category is what we cannot influence or control. We tend to spend a lot of energy focusing on things here.
- the weather
- election outcomes
- current events
- other people’s reactions to election outcomes or current events
- the past
- the future
- other people’s opinions of you or your work
The Core Skill
The core skill here is awareness of where you’re steering your focus. Your thoughts and emotions can be good clues to identify where your focus falls on the Influence/Control Model.
Focusing on things you cannot influence or control drains your energy and leaves you less for what’s most important to you.
Letting go of what we cannot influence or control is a practice that can free up our focus and attention for what truly matters.
If you want real control, drop the illusion of control. Let life live you. It does anyway. — Byron Katie