We strive to be effective & efficient in both our personal and professional lives. Where we focus our time and energy in life determines our effectiveness. The Mantra is simple –
To Be Effective – Get Out and Get In
In life, one of the two forces of behavior will define you, reactive and proactive. One who tries to be circumspect and thinks about various factors before acting on something and the other will simply be aware of the surroundings and act on things they are sure to pull off.
Reactive people through their lives are busy giving a lot of importance to things and people who govern their actions and decisions. While proactive people don’t care much about such conditions, thus are able to have better focus, confidence and time utility.
A quick instance from my professional life, the management decided to discontinue the transport services and instead provide the transport allowance to people asking them to commute on their own. As you would imagine, this change sent the reactive people into a frenzy where they felt, their lives have come to a halt, this led to the loss of work time and immediate solutions of leaving the job, applying elsewhere, complaining about it did the rounds. On the other hand, the proactive ones looked for benefits and opportunities such a move may bring and be less impacted. Admittedly, yes most of the people will face inconvenience and lose certain comfort but what many missed was, saving on transport delays, loss of production, extended hours. Even the total payout increases (though taxable but options to save also increased). Some saw it early and stayed calm, others could only react first.
Times, when you have been effective in life, is when you have believed in your abilities and made confident moves. Be it exams, setting a business, traveling the world, scaling corporate ladder. All of it happened because you ensured that you are in total control where you could channelize your energy without getting bothered about other forces of nature which you can’t really manage. What you did was,
you magnified your belief and intent
Similarly, when external factors like government policies, market dynamics, or worrying about what will people think, impact your performance, behavior or outlook, it means that you were bogged down by things and allowed them to take control over your life or performance. Leaving yourself,
doubtful of your abilities and the outcome
With a commotion of thoughts at the highest level, the only way to pacify your mind is by Getting Out of your CONCERN CIRCLE and Getting in the INFLUENCE CIRCLE. We all have both these circles but of different sizes, let’s read about both –
As humans, we have a lot going in our lives, career, happiness, success, money, the relatives, the societal norms, other’s viewpoints, governments actions, increasing population, marriage, love, children and so on. All of these are termed as CONCERNS, but are all of such concerns in your control? I am sure the answer would be NO. Then why do we worry about them so much?
A CIRCLE OF CONCERN
is where all of your life concerns to rest. These are those social factors which though you don’t control but they have the power to control your life. You feel better when you treat them well, and when others don’t treat them as you do, you become defensive and protective towards these factors. As you allow this social environment to impact your decisions or actions, you develop a Reactive Approach. The more weight you attach to the components of this circle, the bigger this circle grows. You blame time, destiny, people, environment for not letting you succeed in life and continue to dispense a lot of energy in acts of criticism, gossips rather than putting some efforts.
An indication that you are a part of this circle also lies on how you speak of things, mostly known as reactive language – there’s nothing I can do, that’s the way I am, I can’t, I must, I have to, what will people think….
Such language or actions imply that external forces play a strong role in your life and your constant worries about them make you cautious and reluctant to do what you would like to do in life. This creates more negative energy and pulls you further down. It simply leaves you to react the way such factors ask you to as they act as a higher authority to you.
OUR BEHAVIOR IS A FUNCTION OF OUR DECISIONS, NOT OUR CONDITIONS
Stephen R Covey
Whereas A CIRCLE OF INFLUENCE
has things that you have better or complete control over, for instance, health, home, family, work. It means that you have the power to influence the situation, people, concerns within this circle and not be affected much because of the social environment. When you focus on the conditions that you can manage, you stand to make a difference to your life by taking steps to work on them and achieving your goals, leading to build a Proactive Approach.
Even proactive people are influenced by social environment, but their responses or choices are value-based (what will I achieve from this) and not thought-based (what will people say).
Phrases that are associated with proactive language is – let’s look at the alternatives, I can opt for a different approach, I prefer, I will, Certainly…
Gradually, you will realize that by working on yourself and things you control you will be able to influence the conditions better, thereby enlarging your circle of influence and shrinking the circle of concern. This starts to make you feel empowered, calm and confident in your approach be it personal or professional.
GET OUT OF CIRCLE OF CONCERN and GET IN THE CIRCLE OF INFLUENCE
To leave you with a final thought,
A proactive approach will help you manage change from Inside-Out, “what do I change to change things around me”, and
A reactive approach controls the change from Outside-In, ” when factors around me will change, only then I can change.
This concept is discussed in the book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, by Stephen Covey.
I would love to read your thoughts and views on these two circles or your ways to be effective.