As an entrepreneur, you are the moving force of everything. You give life to ideas, you infect everyone with your enthusiasm, make things happen. You give direction and encourage people to swim in unknown waters, to become their best. You create tangible value which started merely as a thought. All this is a result of your conscious action.
Yet, there are lots of things you have no control on.
Don’t react to the world. Respond to it. A response is an action taken based on logic. A reaction is an impulse based on an emotional state. Your reaction will not alter the world. Your reaction only changes you. Your response is what will change the world.Author unknown
Your circle of control
I don’t know about you but my problem was (and still is to a small extend) focusing on things that I can’t control. That has been the root cause of my frustration and split attention. In the past, I wasn’t putting much thought into finding that line beyond which, no matter what I do, I can’t control the outcome. Beyond that line it’s only a circle of concern.
I’m sure you’ve read or at least heard about the bestselling book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey, who distinguishes between proactive people who focus on what they can do and can influence and reactive people who focus their energy on things beyond their control. Reactive people maintain an attitude of victimisation and blame.
And I am aware it’s an life long learning to keep putting effort only into things I can decide on: the way I live, work, respond to challenges, interact with others and see joy and happiness (in the smallest deeds).
From a universe to an innerverse
and then there is you.
When you focus your energy on those things that you can influence, you can make effective changes. If you do this you will find your circle of influence starts to increase. Others will see you as an effective person, a go-getter, and this will increase your power. Conversely, if all your energy goes into those things you cannot change, your circle of influence will shrink. Not only will you drain your energy, other people may start to see you as unduly negative and critical. Don’t we all love those people who only can criticise politicians but they themselves won’t do anything to change it and often, they don’t even bother going to vote (“one vote won’t change anything” type of people)?
Knowing how far your circle of influence extends is an important aspect of personal effectiveness. So is forming partnerships and alliances – you may not have any direct influence over something in your circle of concern, but you may know other people who do. And if you show your enthusiasm and do something towards creating value, other people will join you, forming a wider circle of influence than you could as an individual. As Aristotle once said:
“The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”
I get now why so many people seek to join communities, attend church service, start or support a cause. We all want to belong and want to feel we’re in control of something dear to us.
Mens sana in corpore sano
A famous latin sentence mens sana in corpo sano (meaning a sound mind in a sound body) is for me one of the best examples of this. When I feel like I’m in control over my body and health, I feel dangerous. Looking sexy and attractive is only a by-product of it and not the end goal. Feeling healthy and fit gives me confidence to take on all sorts of life and business challenges, and it’s all transcending. I don’t always feel like going to my karate/sports trainings but I always do. Motivation fades sometimes, but only discipline gets results.
I’m incredibly lucky to be surrounded by positive, good willing people who guide me through the thicket of unknown challenges. And I see a pattern within all my successful friends and colleagues – they all take control, they own their decisions.
I think it’s a bit like in tetris. In life you should plan for an optimal outcome and respond to what comes at you before it’s too late. Dislike your job? Change it. Feeling unhappy? Do something about it – today. You can’t blame external circumstances because lots of things, happiness included, is within your control. Implement the flexible growth mindset, understand that trying and failing is a natural path to success. Don’t let life ‘happen to you’. Claim it. And decide. There are very few decisions which effects can’t be reversed (the post about irreversible vs. reversible decisions coming soon).
And most of all – be easy on yourself. Don’t stress over things you can’t control. You’re just a tiny drop in the universe, anyway.