Got a Problem? Call in the CIA

Got a Problem? Call in the CIA

We can be happily going along in life without a care in the world and then suddenly life throws something at us.

It may be sudden or something that has been building up over time comes to a head.

Often these situations catch us unawares and can instantly alter our state of mind.

It may be a change in circumstances, an obstacle or something we would just describe as a “problem”.

People often get stuck in this situation, caught in a whirlwind of “What ifs” and “If onlys”.

Their view clouded by the inner turmoil, so that it feels like they can’t escape the situation.

Something I’ve used to great effect in my own life many times over the years is something called the CIA Model. CIA standing for; Change – Influence – Accept.

Allow me to explain.

Take your situation and run it through the following filters;


Got a Problem? Call in the CIA - Mark Darlington



Can you directly change the situation?

If yes, great!

Go and do it.

If not, move on to the next filter.


Can you influence the outcome of the situation?

If yes, go away and get influencing.

If not, move on to filter 3.


At this stage, you have to accept that this is the way things are.

Before you do that, double check that there really is nothing you can do to change or influence the situation.

However, that’s not the end of the matter.

If you get to this stage run through the filters again, this time substituting the situation for the way you feel about it.

Can you change the way you feel about the situation?

Can you influence how you might feel in the future?

Very rarely, if ever, do we have to accept that this is how we’ll feel for ever.

To give a personal example, I lost two friends in January.

Both mid thirties and both passed tragically, one in the Haiti earthquake.

I couldn’t change or influence the situation, as much as I wished I could.

I had to accept that they were gone.

The shock, suddenness and the fact that they passed so close together meant that I didn’t feel able to change the way I was feeling immediately.

However, I made a decision to influence the way I would feel in the future.

I decided to remember how lucky I was to have met them, to remember the great times and to put my own other life niggles into true perspective.

I now smile when I think about them and will remember them forever.

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