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The Teachings of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – Habit 1 – Be Proactive (Part 4)

November 9, 2023
The Teachings of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People - Habit 1 - Be Proactive (Part 4)

The circle of concern. It sounds mysterious, almost ominous. It is the first part of a simple concept that can help you master focus. The circle of concern encompasses all that you’re concerned about, all that crosses your mind as a worry.

But within your circle of concern is a much smaller circle, and it’s the second part of this concept – your circle of influence. And the circle of influence includes everything you’re concerned about, but over which you actually have control, which tends to be yourself. Or maybe better expressed as our thoughts, actions, responses, and behaviors.

How many of us would like to walk outside and feel the 65-degree weather against our skin? Most of us, if I’m guessing right. It sounds nice, actually. Feels comfortable, not too hot, not too cold. The weather wouldn’t interfere with our plans for the day. But again, it’s from the perspective of those who enjoy pleasant weather. Now, ask the same question of an HVAC business owner. The answer would be much different.

Comfort is Bad?

65 degrees means it’s within that bittersweet temperature range where it’s not cold enough for heaters/furnaces to run and not hot enough for air conditioners to run. This translates to fewer broken-down units and less wear and tear on them. That means fewer calls for repairs and replacements. One man’s storm is another man’s refuge.

Here’s where this comes into play. Weather is definitely within my circle of concern because it affects my business and livelihood. But it is not within my circle of influence, as I have no control over it. So I do not spend time worrying about the weather itself. If I worried about controlling the weather, it would turn my hair grey if I had any.

Many of us are familiar with a similar concept called the Serenity Prayer:
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

Weather or Not

So my job is to focus on my circle of influence, which is this – How can I still compete and build my business when mild weather happens? I’ll need to learn to sell better. I’ll need to advertise better. Maybe I create a promotion centered around the local weather forecast. When the weatherman says the high will be between 65 and 75 degrees and you book an appointment for a check-up or maintenance, you will save money. Maybe call it “Weather or Not” and run the promotion on the most-watched local TV channel that fits your demographic.

So I start looking for solutions inside my circle of influence over the parts I can control, which are my thoughts, decisions, and actions.

Winners and Whiners

I like to say, “Winners focus on the circle of influence, whiners focus on the circle of concern.”

Give this a try – take time to notice conversations between people around your industry. Maybe go to the parts house. Or listen to your competitors. If they’re complaining about things in the circle of concern, like the weather, the economy, or the competition’s price, they’re just whiners.

But if they’re in there talking about what can be done to compete against these cheap competitors, what can be done to make money in the mild weather? That’s the person who’s proactive because that person is focusing on the circle of influence. They’re focusing on what they can do to make the situation better. In other words, winners.

I choose to adopt the attitude that whatever comes at me, I accept it. And my next thought is, “What can I do to overcome this, get around it, beat it, conquer it?”

That is the characteristic of a proactive person, who, in my opinion, is the only one who could be a strong leader. Because when people know that about you, that you don’t whine, you don’t complain, you just get after it and fix it, people respect that. They look at that and admire you for it. They think, “Now that’s a person I can follow.”

And this isn’t just a way to help us focus on our business lives; it’s also for our everyday personal lives. If someone were a fly on the wall and clicked the stopwatch each time we focused on our circle of concern, wasting time, energy, and resources on things outside our control, how much time would show on that stopwatch over the span of a month? What about a year? It’s something to think about.