How to Increase Your Influence and Control: Practices for Policy Creation

If you haven’t already read the background lesson for this assignment, you can do so here. The page will open in a new window. After you read it, you can close it. This page will still be here when you’re done.

If you have read the background lesson, or if you just want to skip to the good stuff, here you go!

Claim Your Power Through Policy.

Policies are rules. That is all.

All organizations have them. So do all people.

Many policies aren’t even written down.

There are “formal” rules, like formal policies and agreements that are legally binding. These also include laws and regulations.

For example, after lessons 1 and 2, your formal, written policies now include your Coaching Agreement, Points of Presence, Permission, Play, and Purpose agreements and documents.

In addition to formal policies, there are “informal” rules in life that aren’t officially documented, but we somehow still know how they work. These includes things like:

  • In a fast food restaurant, you order first, wait for your food, then take it to a table.
  • In a big business, if you want an executive to do something, you should first go ask his administrative assistant.
  • Appearances matter.

We all have them.

  • Every country and state has its constitution and laws.
  • Most organizations have constitutions, by-laws, and policies.
  • Every person has values and beliefs. These are personal policies, though not usually written down.

So do you.

They’ll always be there. It’s the human condition.

For you to get the results you want in life or business, your policies must allow and support it.

Some of them hold us back.

Some people are surprised to learn they have values and beliefs that are stopping them from achieving goals, and doing what they want in life.

I definitely had some of these. Still do.

The problem with beliefs that hold us back, is we don’t initially know they’re there. We only see the effect of them in our failure to move forward, in an area where we want to make progress. Initially, we only see shadows of them in our lives. We often can’t see them directly, at first.

Sometimes we’re unwilling to change them

Some of us will cling to our limiting beliefs, no matter how bad the resulting inertia, and no matter the cost.

If you choose to do so, then do so with both eyes open, and full awareness of the cost to you.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it:

1. Formal policy assessment

A. Claim Your Power With A Formal Policy Review

If you have a set of written rules or policies, or if you are subject to written rules, policies, or laws, review them for signs of alignment or misalignment with your goals.

Modify those you can, to create more power around your goals.

Zone of influence vs zone of control

The Serenity Prayer

Reinhold Niebuhr wrote the serenity prayer
Reinhold Niebuhr wrote the serenity prayer

“God grant me

Serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

Courage to change the things I can, and

Wisdom to know the difference.”

Focus on those things you can control or influence.

Don’t worry about the things you can’t.

Consider which things you can increase your level of influence. Soon you will make Plans to do so.

B. Claim Your Power By Clarifying Your Values

Do this exercise and put the last 5 values on your Power Board.

Photo by Tirachard Kumtanom from Pexels

2. Informal Policy assessment

First, we want to see what policies (beliefs) we have that we may not even know we have. Many have served us well for a long time. Some, not so much.

We want to see the policies that got us where we are today. While they got us here, they may now be holding us so rigidly in place that further progress has become difficult or impossible.

A. Claim Your Power With An External Informal Policy Review (“What They Said”)

  1. Make a list of anything “they” ever said that left you unhappy, hurt, or feeling incomplete or wounded. If you’re like all other humans, someone said something to you at some time in your life (start at the current time and go back, way back…). It’s been a hurtful memory ever since. They may not have meant it hurtfully, but it hurt you nonetheless.If you’re like most humans, you have half a dozen or more of these rattling around in your head.Caution: If you skip this step, you will miss some of the most powerful limiters across your whole life, and they will continue to haunt you until you face them directly.
  2. Add to that list anything “they” ever said that left you happy, confident, or empowered, especially if they’re still words you live by today.

You may notice both of these types of sayings have become “words to live by”, and you may see that you’ve based some major life decisions on them.


1. The words people use to hurt and destroy you are powerless until you empower them.

Harry Petsanis
Harry Petsanis

2. Never let other people’s words determine your actions.

3. The most powerful words are often the ones you don’t use.

4. A kind word and the right word are almost always the same word.

— Harry Petsanis

It’s time to exorcise your demons.

After you’ve written them all down, write an alternative, empowering statement they might have said instead. …or write an alternative, empowering statement a kind friend, parent, or grandparent might have told you instead, as if they were the most enlightened, powerful, helpful, supportive, empowering, inspiring coach/counselor/parent/grandparent in the world.

As I did this exercise, over several weeks, I eventually got to a list of about 3 dozen “things they said” and the alternative positive statements.

Start your lists now, and add to each of your lists, as you remember more things.


  1. My brother told me I had poor relationship skills, and for 25 years I believed I was somehow flawed. As if he, at the wise old age of 11, had any clue what he was talking about! In his unkind statement, he held himself up as an example of a master of relationships. It had me stuck for 25 years! Instead, I wish he’d said, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Be kind. Be grateful. Be compassionate. Be loving. Be loved.”
  2. As a kid, my mom told me, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all”. As I result, I didn’t express myself authentically or collaborate powerfully for the next 30 years. Instead, I wish she’d said, “If you’re going to point out a shortcoming or a problem, do it with kindness, and offer two or three examples of how it could be done differently.”
  3. My grandmother, aunts, and mother loved to say I was “smart”. As evidence, while still in diapers, under the age of 2, I pointed at the plastic diaper package and read the word, “absorbent” aloud. I was reading the newspaper by age 4. Lots of evidence. I’ve always “known” I’m smart. However, being smart led me to be arrogant and uncoachable. I already knew everything, and it took me until I was nearly 40 years old to realize how stuck I’d become in life. When I began to be open to the opinions of others, and to the possibility that I can rely on others, my life got easier, and I suddenly was able to effectively participate on teams. I wish they’d said, “You’re smart, and you can learn a lot from others. Reach out to experts and see how they can help you.”

B. Claim Your Power With An Internal Informal Policy Review (“What I Said” and “What I Say”)

On the topic of thoughts that get into your head and leave you stuck, there’s an even darker place. Just as other people say things that impact us, we all tell ourselves things that become rules we live by.

These things may come about in response to a difficult situation or something someone else said. On the other hand, they may just be things we “know” to be true.

“What gets us into trouble is not what we don’t know. It’s what we know for sure that just ain’t

Mark Twain
Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens)


― Mark Twain

Write down the things you’ve claimed and believed that may not always work for you.

Make a list of anything you ever said (openly to others, or only to yourself) that has guided your behavior, or become a rule to live by, or eventually left you unhappy, hurt, incomplete, or wounded. You can find several examples of these limiting beliefs here.

Alternatively, these may have positive connotations.

In either case, these guided you to the place you are today, good or bad.

We want you to see them in plain sight, so we can begin to assess their impact on you and your life. From there, you can own them, and not have them own you, undistinguished.

What rules do you live by that may not be authentically yours?

For each thing, craft an empowering statement you might say instead, as if you are the most enlightened, powerful, helpful, supportive, empowering, inspiring coach/counselor/parent/grandparent in the world.

Start now, and add to each list as you remember and think of more.


  1. For a long time in adulthood, I lived according to the “rule” that family comes first. I came home to my family every night dutifully, right after work. I went on many business trips, and never stayed over a weekend or took time for touring while on a trip. I worked long hours, with a certainty that I was doing so in service of my family. Come to find out, my wife resented my long hours, and I was bored, unstimulated, unstimulating, and dull. I was living in service of the value of family, but “family” proved not to be something that really invigorated me. When I worked out my 5 true values, “family” was not on the list. However, my family can still be well served inside the 5 values that are authentically my choice. I certainly would have been a more inspiring partner and father had I known and lived my authentic values sooner.
  2. One of my clients would walk to the refrigerator and say, “it doesn’t matter anyway, I can’t win” before she’d take out and eat a pint of ice cream. Now she says, “I eat for fitness, health, and a body I love.”
  3. After feeling embarrassed, many people conclude in grammar school they will never raise their hand and be caught without the right answer. As a result, they don’t participate or volunteer much, or at all. Alternatively, they could say, “There are no dumb questions or bad first efforts. If I think I have a chance, I’ll make an attempt. If I get it wrong, I’ll learn something, and I’ll be better for trying.”

3. Formal policy creation

A. Affirmations

“Never go to sleep without a request to your subconscious”

Thomas Alva Edison circa 1922
Thomas Alva Edison circa 1922

― Thomas Edison

Now, adopt the lists of affirmations you created above as your first set of written policies. Congratulations! You have formal rules to live by that empower you in places you have possibly been disempowered for years.

B. Purpose

A big, inspiring purpose, fulfilled with and in service of others, may be the most empowering thing of all.

You worked on that in the last lesson.

Take this opportunity to revise your:

  • social vision
  • personal vision
  • bucket list
  • etc.


  1. Place all these new documents and revisions in your Power Board. Verify they all support and reinforce one another.
  2. Just as important, make sure they do not meaningfully conflict with one another. Where you see conflicts, make changes to further empower yourself and your intentions by eliminating cognitive dissonance.


By now you should have a Power Board with:

Update your Power Board
  1. Permission
  2. Play
  3. Formal policies (if applicable)
  4. Values
  5. Things “they” said
  6. Things you said
  7. Affirmations
  8. External informal policy restatements
  9. Internal informal policy restatements
  10. Purpose
  11. Social vision
  12. Broad Personal vision
  13. Personal vision upon achieving your goal
  14. Bucket list

Celebrate Your Progress

Do a little dance, pat yourself on the back, be proud of yourself, tell someone!

Don’t worry, I’ll wait.

(This is important.)

You rock!

  • Thank you for being amazing.
  • Thank you for being here.
  • Thank you for taking a stand to make a difference in the world.

It matters!

It will make a difference all around you.

Next — Lesson 4: Product

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