The 3 wise words – serenity, courage and wisdom

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I came upon a Facebook post last week showing a picture of a circle of influence, and it made me really think about what I spend my time focusing on.

Many years ago I used to keep a diary, and written on the very last page was the quote from Reinhold Niebuhr as follows:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, The courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

I used to read it often and reflect on how acceptance of things that are out of my control would bring me happiness.  To be honest, I now often forget that fact, and I spend far too much time worrying and ruminating on things that I have no influence over.

The circle of influence takes Niebuhr’s quotation one step further by giving you the tool with which to actively consider the specifics of what is and what is not within your control.

An good example of a simple circle of influence is as follows:

stephencoveycircle

The inner circle of influence covers things such as: The words I use; my attitude; the type of clients I work with; the exercise I do; the friends I have.  In other words things that are fully within your control.  This is where you need to focus your time and energy.

The outer circle of concern focuses on things that are out of your control i.e. the attitude of others, the weather, international politics etc.  Spending time and energy trying to change these things is fruitless.

This simplistic model can be developed to suit whatever you want.  You could decide to do a separate circle for each area of your life i.e. personal and business, or you could merge them to create a more complex integration.  Whatever works for you is fine.

From my own perspective, it has been a really useful exercise to reflect once again on Niebuhr’s wise words.  I have now produced my own circle of influence which has given me focus and clarity on how I want to move forward with my book, my business and with life in general.

I am hopeful that this may prove useful to you too, and I would love to hear your thoughts…..