In his acclaimed book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, best-selling author and speaker Stephen R. Covey discussed how the problems, challenges, and opportunities we face fall into two areas—Circle of Concern and Circle of Influence.
Simply put, effective people focus their energies on their Circle of Influence. They work on those things they can do something about. They work on developing career skills, improving their health, and building up their relationships. Less effective people focus their energies on things they can’t control. They are reactive. They worry about the economy, world politics, etc—things in the Circle of Concern.
So if you want to achieve success in some facet of your life, focus your energies on the things you have control over.
This reminds me of a story my cousins told me years ago. When they were younger and wanted something—money, permission to go out with friends, a ride to the mall—from their mother, my Aunt Janet, they would carefully and quietly set the stage for success.
Their secret weapon? Styx Greatest Hits.
My Aunt Janet loved the band Styx. L-O-V-E-D. So my cousins would wait until my aunt was busy in the kitchen, garden or doing other random house chores. Then they would put the Styx album in the cassette player on volume 1. Slowly over the next hour or so, they would gently raise the volume one level at a time, subtly letting the music fill the house.
Soon my aunt would be humming and singing and dancing. Happy as a clam.
Then my cousins would make their request.
“Mom, can I have $10 bucks to go to the movies?”
“Sure, go get my purse.”
This went on for years. Yes, years. Finally one day, my aunt said, “How come whenever you ask me for something, Styx is playing?” My cousins just started laughing. That story has now become family lore.
Control the things you can. Ignore what you can’t. Set the stage for success.