The Genius of Stephen Covey

February 13, 2024

Do you know Stephen Covey and his work? If you don’t, you should. Stephen was a business consultant who wrote a book called Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. From this book he created a system to govern your life and your business. Each of the seven habits are very powerful and if you work with all of them (a system you see!) it is incredibly powerful.

My favorite habit is about staying in your Circle of Influence. What is he talking about? Stephen divides your interactions with the world into two Circles. They are the Circle of Influence and the Circle of Concern. The Circle of Influence is the events and activities that you can control or influence the outcome directly. The Circle of Concern is all the things that you are interested in or concerned about, but you have no influence over. Listening to the news, arguing about politics, following movie stars and being passionate about their lives and actions. What he recommends is that you spend 80 to 90% of your time in your Circle of Influence. The reason to do so is simple. When you are engaged in the Circle of Concern you are spending valuable energy and time on things that will have no effect on your life. I mean that your actions will have little effect on the events in the Circle of Influence. That same amount of effort and time on your Circle of Influence will have measurable effects on your life and its directions and results.

So, look at your actions in your life. Where do you spend your time? How much time on social media? How much time watching YouTube videos? How much time complaining to your friends about things you have no control over? Do you spend quality time deciding what you eat? How much time do you spend exercising or thinking about how you exercise and weather it is good for you? How much money do you spend on television access?

Do yourself a favor and try this simple exercise. Use a written calendar and for the next week write down what you do during the day. After the week is up put together the subtotals of how you spent the week. Categories might be sleeping, eating, exercising, watching television or videos on the computer that are non-work related, learning something new, spending quality time with your family. Add up the totals and then put them into the categories of Circle of Influence and Circle of Concern. Don’t overthink this; just record it and then analyze it at the end of the week. After you do this write down how much time you spent in each category. Is 90% of your time spent in your Circle of Influence? If it isn’t maybe it should be. For reference most people spend most of their time in the Circle of Concern. And they spend an enormous amount of time blaming everyone from their friends, families, and politicians for why they aren’t doing well in life.

Do this simple exercise and change your life.

Stephen had a big influence on how I see and work with the world. One of his other habits is Start With The End in Mind. My mentor Christie Marie Sheldon calls it focus on your Happy End Result. If you are used to my work and thought you know my first question is, what is your desired outcome? They are all the same.

Do the exercise above and then go get a copy of Stephen’s book. Study it and use it. Next year at this time you won’t recognize yourself.

To a focused life,

Cliff


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