April 23, 2011


circles of influence and concern
You only have power over people so long as you don't take everything away from them. But when you've robbed a man of everything, he's no longer in your power -- he's free again.
— Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

I read that life-changing quote in high school. There's always something you can do. You may face consequences, but you're not powerless.

Not everyone agrees.

Nothing Ventured

You want it. You take it. You pay the price. — Bruce Springsteen
This week, several attendees at a seminar on leadership bemoaned shortcomings in their companies, nonprofit organizations or government departments. They felt that once their colleagues and senior people changed, life would be grand. Yet these attendees felt no responsibility to take initiative and do something themselves. If it's to be, it's up to me others.

The problems may be outside you but the seeds of change are within you.

The Right Circle

In the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey says we have a Circle Of Concern that contains a smaller Circle Of Influence. We may be concerned about fuel prices or tsunamis but we can't do anything about them. However, we can reduce the risks by buying fuel efficient vehicles and moving inland to higher ground. Why not focus within your Circle Of Influence and expand it? You can.

Feigning helplessness leads to a downward spiral. When you talk about something bad that happened to you, count on someone else telling about something worse that happened to them. Soon you have what Zig Ziglar calls a pity party.

Peer Pressure

Brian Tracy says that instead of clucking with the turkeys, soar with the eagles. The turkeys will gripe about you leaving their company. Let them.

You don't need to take in bad news. You can lead a low noise life, as I have since January 2008. You'll be less aware of the ruckus around you but you'll have more time. You'll be able to focus on what matters.

The first habit of highly effective people is Be Proactive.


To stand up for truth is nothing. For truth, you must sit in jail. 
— Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
If you believe in telling the truth as you see it, expect consequences. There are ways to get results without making enemies. Tact takes more skill and more time but works better. You may need to learn new techniques. You may even fail.

Seth Godin's latest book, Poke The Box, may inspire and empower you to take initiative. It follows 2010's Linchpin, which helps you see why and how to stand out.

Yes, you may fail. You may discover you're in the wrong place and leave. At least you will decide.
If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the woe-is-me crowd. For a tree to be green, each leaf must be green. That's what George Harrison's Maharishi told him in the 1960s. What colour is your leaf?


Podcast 114 (4:21)

direct download | Internet Archive page | iTunes (new)

PS If you need a boost, watch TED videos and read Switch by Chip & Dan Heath. Mindset by Carol Dweck may help you too.

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