Circle Of Influence
It is here that we find two ways to put ourselves in control of our lives immediately. We can make a promise — and keep it. Or we can set a goal — and work to achieve it. As we make and keep commitments, even small commitments, we begin to establish an inner integrity that gives us the awareness of self-control and the courage and strength to accept more of the responsibility for our own lives. By making and keeping promises to ourselves and others, little by little, our honor becomes greater than our moods.
The power to make and keep commitments to ourselves is the essence of developing the basic habits of effectiveness. Knowledge, skill, and desire are all within our control. We can work on anyone to improve the balance of the three. As the area of intersection becomes larger, we more deeply internalize the principles upon which the habits are based and create the strength of character to move us in a balanced way toward increasing effectiveness in our lives.
Proactivity: The 30-Day Test
We don’t have to go through the death camp experience of Frankl to recognize and develop our own proactivity. It is in the ordinary events of every day that we develop the proactive capacity to handle the extraordinary pressures of life. It’s how we make and keep commitments, how we handle a traffic jam, how we respond to an irate customer, or a disobedient child. It’s how we view our problems and where we focus our energies. It’s the language we use.
I would challenge you to test the principle of proactivity for 30 days. Simply try it and see what happens. For 30 days work only in your Circle of Influence. Make small commitments and keep them. Be a light, not a judge. Be a model, not a critic. Be part of the solution, not part of the problem.
Try it in your marriage, in your family, in your job. Don’t argue for other people’s weaknesses. Don’t argue for your own. When you make a mistake, admit it, correct it, and learn from it immediately. Don’t get into a blaming, accusing mode. Work on things you have control over. Work on you. On being.
Look at the weaknesses of others with compassion, not an accusation. It’s not what they’re not doing or should be doing that’s the issue. The issue is your own chosen response to the situation and what you should be doing. If you start to think the problem is “out there,” stop yourself. That thought is the problem.
People who exercise their embryonic freedom day after day will, little by little, expand that freedom. People who do not will find that it withers until they are literally “being lived.” They are acting out the scripts written by parents, associates, and society.
We are responsible for our own effectiveness, for our own happiness, and ultimately, I would say, for most of our circumstances.
Samuel Johnson observed: “The fountain of content must spring up in the mind, and he who hath so little knowledge of human nature as to seek happiness by changing anything but his own disposition, will waste his life in fruitless efforts and multiply the grief he proposes to remove.”
Knowing that we are responsible — “response-able” — is fundamental to effectiveness and to every other habit of effectiveness we will discuss.
Attend Your Own Funeral
Please find a place to read these next few pages where you can be alone and uninterrupted. Clear your mind of everything except what you will read and what I will invite you to do. Don’t worry about your schedule, your business, your family, or your friends. Just focus and really open your mind.