Stephen Covey, author of the wildly popular book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, later realized The 8th Habit to be “find your voice and inspire others to find theirs”. I’ve found my voice, I’m building a platform, and I hope that I can inspire others to do the same. As we move along, striving to be more effective in utilizing the wisdom that is supposed to come with being homo sapiens (which means “wise man”), our success, both in finding our voices and in changing the world, will be found in where we place our attention and energy.
Covey wrote that each of us has a “circle of concern” and a “circle of influence”. The circle of concern includes, simply enough, all of the things that concern us. The circle of influence includes all of the things that we have influence over. The challenge that many people have, especially here at the tail end of the Information Revolution, when we are so incredibly barraged with every little story of every little thing in every little corner of the world streaming directly through handheld computers that we can’t seem to put down, is that our circles of concern are immense, and our circles of influence don’t extend quite as far.
Our mission, should we choose to accept it, is to focus our attention and energies toward our circles of influence. Where there are matters of concern to us that we actually have some influence upon, that is where we direct our endeavors with the time that we have. The more that we invest time into our circles of influence, the more our influence will grow, and we will find that our circles of concern are starting to diminish.
Focusing on our circle of influence does not mean merely sharing our opinions about whatever concerns us in order to influence someone else’s opinion about it, whether in a social media stream or in real life. Certainly, changing people’s opinion is influential, however, if your life is to be effective, you will be much more influential in changing your own behavior than in changing the opinions of others. As Will Rogers said, “People’s minds are changed through observation and not through argument.”
While it is very easy to be concerned over a great many things these days, especially the way other people sometimes think, we needn’t be as concerned about every little thing as our society has allowed us to be. It is true that our technologies have offered us great opportunities for effective empowerment, but they also come with the additional side effects of being harbingers of consistently horrific news and gluttonous vacuums of time and energy. Tools used as toys become traps.
You, like everyone else on the planet, have 1440 minutes to spend today. Do you want to spend them being concerned or influential?