Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Thought for the Day: Minding my Own Business

Remember sitting in maths classes at school drawing those really neat Venn diagrams? Well, this one from a very highbrow website, The Electronic Journal of Combinatrics(!) depicts seven overlapping sets!  Hail to the amazingly clever boffin who came up with it.

You may be wondering what on earth is going on and whether I'm going to roll out some complex calculus at any moment now and scare the heebie jeebies out of a good number of you.  But relax.  What I'm just trying to express in my love of the succinct clarity of the diagrammatic form. For those of you with a more verbal disposition I'll explain in words too!

This diagram depicts an idea that's been very helpful to me from a sanity preserving perspective.  A bit of research has indicated that it originates from Stephen Covey's The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Peoplea book I possibly wouldn't have thought of touching because it sounds well, a bit too thrusty and go getting, if you see what I mean.  How wrong can we be - don't judge a book by its cover and all that.

Our circle of concern contains all the things that we care about, our health, our family, what the bigwigs at work are up to, what the government are up to etc, etc. The list can go on and on. The circle of influence represents all the things that we can do something about. When we worry excessively and do nothing our circle of influence shrinks and we feel overwhelmed. Our overall objective is to get the sizes of the circles to match up.

One way of doing this is to stop concerning ourselves with some of the things that are outside our control and shrinking the size of our circle of concern. But we can also increase our circle of influence by concentrating on the things that we can do something about. Can I affect what the government is going to do with my pension as a public sector worker? Probably not but I can start to implement alternative plans that will provide me with a reasonable lifelong income. By acting in this way our circle of influence magically expands.

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