“The desire to love is not itself love …. Love is an act of will – namely an intention and an action. Will implies choice. We do not have to love. We choose to love. No matter how much we think we are loving, if we are in fact not loving, it is because we have chosen not to love and therefore do not love despite our good intentions. On the other hand, whenever we do actually exert ourselves in the cause of spiritual growth, it is because we have chosen to do so. The choice to love has been made.” ~ M. Scott Peck, The Road Less Travelled, 1978
I love the above quote, which I first read in Stephen Covey’s book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Families. It is a powerful statement for work and for life. While learned the power of choice and attitude in my teens while working at a local grocery store, I didn’t really realize the reason why I had this ability until I read Covey’s description of our four unique human gifts.
We have four unique human gifts that allow us to make choices!
Stephen Covey notes that human beings are the only living creatures in the universe that can “think” before they act. We can CHOOSE how we are going to respond! We can decide to speak, act and behave in ways that create positive and memorable experiences for ourselves and for others.
Covey explains our four unique human gifts or attributes this way:
- Self-Awareness – Allows us to step back and observe our own behaviour!
- Conscience – Let’s us know deep down inside ourselves, whether we are harming or enhancing our relationships by our behaviour, and actions.
- Imagination – Allows us to visualize another way of acting. It lets us choose a better response, one that will have a longer-term positive effect.
- Independent Will – Let’s us take action and choose to take a positive road to enhance relationships!
These four unique gifts give us the ability to CHOOSE how we communicate and interact with each other. It gives us the power to build lasting and positive relationships at work and in life.
So what did YOU learn from Stephen Covey? Please share it here.
P.S. During our Leadership Program participants learn more about their style of leadership and communication, and learn about the choices they can make to build positive relationships with their staff, customers, and suppliers. And of course, these lessons can be applied to their own personal relationships as well. Contact us for more information.
What Stephen Covey taught me – The Power Pause
What Stephen Covey taught me – The Circle of Influence
God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
As human beings, we have the capacity to be proactive. We can focus on the things that we can actually do something about, or we can add to the stress in our lives by worrying and fretting over the things we have no control over.
Stephen Covey, in The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, introduces the concept of Circle of Concern and Circle of Influence.
The Circle of Concern is the area that we have no control over.
The Circle of Influence is the area that we have control over.
Covey tells us that in life our Circle of Influence is most often smaller than the Circle of Concern. We can’t control the economy or a company merger. As we react, we tend to focus on the Circle of Concern, which depletes our energy, because we have no control over it. The energy focused on the Circle of Concern is negative. If you focus on the Circle of Concern and neglect the Circle of Influence, eventually the Circle of Influence will get smaller. This will add to feelings of stress and helplessness, because you cannot change anything in the Circle of Concern.
Proactive people focus on the Circle of Influence, which is the area we have control over and we can act upon. When we do this, the Circle of Influence gets bigger. When you act on your Circle of Influence you are able to reduce stress levels and increase happiness, because you can initiate and influence change.
During my leadership program, participants share experiences of where they are spending wasted energy worrying about things they have no control over and then brainstorm ways in which they move towards proactively influencing and acting upon the things they can change. Consider an employee working for a company that is going through a merger. If that employee spends time worrying about whether he will lose his job, he will be wasting his energy and sink into a negative spiral of helplessness over something he has no control over. However, if he talks to his manager to learn how he might provide value to the new organization, ensure his skills and knowledge (and resume) are up-to-date, and increase his networking, he will be proactively directing his actions towards things he can influence and build positive energy at the same time.
This concept is easy to remember and is a great tool to direct our energy and actions in meaningful ways on things we do have control over. Are you spending your time in the Circle of Concern worrying about things you have no control over? What can you do today to expand the Circle of Influence to build more positive energy in your life and at work?
Related posts: What Stephen Covey taught me – The Power Pause