• Nick Petrie

Refocus on Your Circle of Control



When we get stressed it is often because we spend a lot of time thinking about things we cannot control. During COVID-19, this has become particularly common with people spending a lot of time on social media and reading the news. Their attention has become fixated on areas they have no control over.


In workshops, I ask people to draw a big circle on a page. They then take 5 minutes to write down all the things that they cannot control outside of the circle. Then they write all of the things they can control inside of the circle.


As people get into discussions on their visuals, many are amazed to see how much of their time they had been thinking about the uncontrollables in their life and how little time was spent on things they could control. Some people have told me that this simple seven-minute exercise had a profound effect on how they dealt with adversities in their life going forward. Try it now for yourself, or as many leaders have done, do the exercise with your team.


Exercise: Your Team’s Circle of Control

One organization I worked with was going through staff reductions and a reorganization. It was a very unsettling time. Several leaders brought their teams together to identify what they could control over the next three months and what they could not. Team members then made a commitment to remind each other to “stay focused inside our circle.” The teams that did this came through the experience with significantly less stress and higher performance. These were the team’s discussion questions:


  • What is outside of our circle of control over the next three months? What is inside?

  • Where are we currently focusing most of our attention?

  • How can we support each other to keep our attention inside our circle of control going forward?


The above is an excerpt from my new whitepaper: Pressure is not Stress: 4 steps to be resilient in disruptive times. You can download it here.


If you are interested in learning more about Nick’s workshops read more here.

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© 2020 by nicholas petrie, llc

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