The word ‘influence’ always reminds me of my very first Stephen Covey book—The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, a book which is well known for its’ framework of personal effectiveness and one that had me hooked on it from the word go. From the very beginning, it felt that the book was actually written for me. I savoured it, reading slowly and digesting all the fundamentals until I absorbed it all. In fact, I carried it with me in my handbag, just about everywhere I went. This was in the mid-90s, and it came at a time of huge emotional upheaval for me—a perfect time, indeed for a self-help tool, that also left a lasting influence on my mind and my life.
Life, as we all know, comes with its share (fair or unfair, whatever you call it!) of challenges for us. What makes us different is that we all have a unique response in dealing with these challenges. It either breaks us or makes us stronger. Some of us realise our mettle in these trying moments. The book had come at a time when I was grappling with multiple situations, with very little control or influence to gain any control over them. To be powerless meant I would be crushed under and I had to find a way to survive. Not just survive, but prevail. And this is where Covey’s book came to my rescue. The seven habits that Covey talks about include:
- Being Proactive
- Beginning with the End in Mind
- Putting First Things First
- Thinking Win/Win
- Seeking First to Understand, Then To be Understood
- Renewal/Continual Improvement
But, it was the Circle of Concern and the Circle of Influence that got me thinking and that was the starting point from where I began to look differently at the things that concerned me. It made me realise how small my circle of control was, vis-a-vis my circle of concern and that I not only had to work on growing my circle of influence, but also reduce my Circle of Concern if I had to be effective. But, more than that, I learnt that I could work on increasing my power over people, and situations than I ever thought I could. That literally changed my perspective and caused a major paradigm shift within me!
Of course, there was plenty to work on, but the book eventually made me realise how things were in my control even though I felt otherwise and that simple fact truly did make a tremendous difference to my young mind. I gave up stressing and worrying over things and began to focus on areas where I could build my influence. Those things which were beyond my control, I learnt to let go, because there now there was a saner voice within me that was reminding me not everything could be influenced, controlled or changed.
If you haven’t read the book, I’d highly recommend it. For one, you’ll realise you can influence more than you think, and this will definitely change your attitude and your response to the forces that challenge you from time to time.
I’m Writing Bravely for the Write Tribe Festival of Words – March 2019.
Prompt for Day 5 – ‘Influence’.