Here’s another way to show the relationship between your response and your situation. It’s the equation: Situation + Response = Outcome
Oftentimes, we must deal with negative situations that are beyond our control to change. In these circumstances, to affect the outcome, you must concentrate on what can be changed by you—namely, your response to the situation. It is your response that places you on an upward spiral. Interestingly, we usually think about this in reverse. We assume that the situation itself produces the outcome when in reality it is our responses to that situation that lead to either negative or positive results.
Once I went to conduct a workshop and found that the room wasn’t ready and there were twice the number of people I’d been told to expect. That was the situation, and my response was up to me. I was annoyed, of course, but the situation was what it was and I couldn’t control it. I knew that if I remained irritated and angry, the workshop would suffer and I wouldn’t enjoy the day. Moreover, the people who had come to hear me wouldn’t enjoy the day and wouldn’t get any benefit from being there for four hours. The outcome was bound to be negative and not helpful for anyone. So, I changed my response from irritation and decided to just let things unfold. I decided my response would be one of spontaneity and that I would enjoy myself no matter what. The workshop was not just successful; it was one of the best I’ve ever done! By shifting my response, the outcome became positive, and everyone benefited.
To sum up, getting into your Control requires you to actively choose your responses to situations and events in your life. When you are in the No Control Zone, you will be wasting your energy and depleting your inner resources. For example, you may be spending time worrying about how much money you’ll have for retirement, yet it won’t do you any good to worry. When you stop worrying and start taking necessary actions to prepare for the future, such as going to a financial advisor or reading books on investing, you have moved into the Influence Zone. If there are no actions to take, you can still choose to stop worrying, recognizing that worrying is fruitless. If you are continuously thinking about the past, you can enter the Control Zone by intentionally choosing to let go of past events. Remember, you are in the No Control Zone when you look to others to bring you happiness and success. If your spouse is in a bad mood, for example, that doesn’t mean you have to take it personally. Your wellbeing depends not on changing others, but on your own interpretations and reactions to what is happening in the present moment. When you put yourself in the Control Zone, you are creating your own empowerment and letting your positive energy flow.