Why You Shouldn’t Confuse Control with Authority: How to Stay Within Your Circle of Influence

Aaron Walker
Jan 15, 2021


whatever you might think about your rights, one thing I know is you don’t have “the right to do wrong.” (1)

Would you like to know the difference between being “in control” and being “in authority”?


I recently heard someone describe God that way … he’s in authority, but he’s not in control. That’s why a lot of things that happen upset him … he trusted us with free will, and we often make a mess of things.


The same thing is true in Stephen Covey’s book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Covey uses the term “Circle of Influence” to describe things in our lives that are firmly under our control. You want to know the good part? The list gets shorter, the more you think about it.


The best way to understand this is to realize what’s really under your control. You can control your emotions, reactions, responses, decisions and behavior. But everything else is fair game.


You can influence what others do, how they respond and even how they feel, but you can’t control any of it. As the old saying goes, “Not my monkeys, not my circus.” Covey says that whatever we can’t truly control belongs in our “Circle of Concern.”


It’s good to be aware of what’s happening in your Circle of Concern, but what most people do is give it way too much attention. We’re going to dive into that a little later in this blog. First, though, you need to know why you can’t afford to get this wrong.


And let’s make no bones about it … other people often have a much easier time knowing what goes in which circle. Another reason you should join one of our online mastermind groups with Iron Sharpens Iron.


Influence Over Concern: Why It Matters


           Before you start a mission to change “the system,” you have to be sure you’re operating in LOVE.


We’ve seen the news footage and headlines … people flooding the streets and violently protesting, or attacking each other over wearing masks. Do you think they’d be doing that, if they were in mastermind groups that help them grow personally and professionally?


I’m not saying it’s wrong to speak your mind, but these people have a burr in their saddles about things way out in the “boondocks” of their concern. I know this because they could literally get everything they want, and they’re only going to get more angry.


See, when your energy is concentrated on mastering your Circle of Influence, you don’t respond the same way to things you can’t control. The main reason is you’re working to control emotions and responses.


If these people had to bring their thoughts and decisions before masterminds or business coaches, they’d never get out of committee. It’s actually the smartest thing you can do, but our society and culture have got things backwards. They’ve been telling us for decades, “If it feels good, do it.” I fundamentally disagree.


One sure sign a society is flying upside-down is when we put our Circle of Concern ahead of our Circle of Influence. We’re basically telling each other, “I don’t need to work on my character or conduct … but everyone else does!”


Take it from your friendly neighborhood Christian life coach … if you think that way, you’re as lost as last year’s Easter egg.


The problem deep down for people is unhappiness. When human lives are empty and unfulfilled, an issue like wearing masks comes along, and they think they have an excuse for antisocial behavior. After all, we have our Constitutional rights, don’t we?


Well, whatever you might think about your rights, one thing I know is you don’t have “the right to do wrong.” And almost without exception, people who are doing “wrong” to their fellow human beings are unhappy, hurt, angry, unforgiving and full of hate.


Before you start a mission to change “the system,” you have to be sure you’re operating in love. And the way to operate in love is to focus 90 percent of your energy on your Circle of Influence. So let’s talk about how you do that.


The Time Management Matrix: How to Gain Authority by Losing Control


Covey’s time management matrix is famous in the business world, but if you’ve never heard of or seen it, this is what it looks like:


TASKURGENTNOT URGENTIMPORTANTCrises, problems, deadline-driven projectsPrevention, relationship building, recognizing new opportunities, planning, recreationNOT IMPORTANTInterruptions, some phone calls/ mail/ meetings/ reports, popular activitiesTrivia, busy-work, some mail/calls, time wasters, pleasant activities


Now you might read this and think, “Hold on, Big A! Don’t the virus and the riots qualify as a ‘crisis’?”


Well, if you’re in leadership in the Centers For Disease Control or local law enforcement, yes. They might be a crisis if you live with an infected person or near the core of a city where there’s violence and unrest. There might be a few other categories … but it’s pretty limited.


The real problems you need to deal with are the ones going on in your heart and soul. The negative emotions, anxiety, greed, pride and hatred you feel toward others. Choices you make, and actions you take, that create new problems. Everybody’s subject to this.


That’s why you need a mentor-coach, a healthy marriage and a mastermind.


If you’re looking at the world and throwing your hands up in disgust or despair, you need to remember: virtuous living isn’t in style today. Many of our leaders and “heroes” have no business setting the example for how we live our lives.


The way to implement this is through a mastermind group that models transparency, authenticity and vulnerability. Your own personal board of directors, who know you intimately and have the courage to (lovingly) hold you accountable.


I could go on … have you noticed how outrage and hatred always burn out? You can’t sustain them anymore than you can maintain the buzz when you receive your favorite Christmas gift. You’re still depending on someone or something outside yourself to make you happy.


But for an online mastermind, it’s the opposite.


We’re helping our members create, refine and present vision for how their lives and businesses will look three years from now. Is it hard work? You bet it is. But it’s much more meaningful in the long run than smashing windows or breaking people’s jaws over failing to wear a mask.


Are you hungry for vision in your life? I want to encourage you to visit our website and apply to join one of our mastermind groups online. If there was ever a good time to do this, it’s now.

Begin Your Climb!

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