In my last post, “Where to Start,” I discussed an incredible meeting I had with my team regarding personal discipline and how that plays a massive part in our ability to have personal freedom. As I reviewed this lesson towards the end of last week, I had another thought that I can’t get out of my head: How do I go about making the change that I want to see? Answer: Control what I can control and don’t worry about the rest.
See, I’ve been in somewhat of a period of confusion, stagnation, anxiety, etc. I’m sure most everyone else has been. There’s so much going on in today’s world; it’s so easy to get lost. You turn on your TV (news or not), open your social media apps, talk to a friend or a family member, or simply go out in public and get hit squarely in the face with all of it. The negative energy that is so much of what we consume from a media standpoint, there’s no wonder why I have been in this state. There’s almost no escape from it!
Why is this all we see?
I often ask myself why it seems like the world is ripping apart at the seams every time I look at the news, but I won’t turn it off. WHY? Well, our brains are literally wired to push most of our focus on negative things. When we were still living in tents, the negative was all that mattered. It was nice that you had positive emotions. Still, the negative things would legitimately kill you: a neighboring tribe, a lion, a fire. Nowadays, we don’t have to worry about those things in the vast majority of the world. Our brain LOVES to fixate on them because its sole purpose is to keep us alive.
This is ultimately why we focus on the bad. Why it’s most of what we see, and, more importantly, what the media companies push out — because it’s what makes money, it’s how they glue your eyes to their channel. It’s why we can’t look away from a train wreck. We know it’s terrible, but we are supremely fascinated.
So we have to make a choice.
Do we let our brains be overcome with all of this negativity surrounding us? Or do we find the bright spots and focus on that? Find the things that we can control in each of our own lives and lead through those actions? We are all faced with different challenges on a daily basis. Some of us have to close our businesses; others are having the best business of their lives. Some are experiencing death, and some are experiencing the birth of their first child. But in every station in life, advantages or disadvantages, we must focus on what is in our control versus what is not.
Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (seriously, read it now if you haven’t) reflect this in his circle of concern. There are effectively three concentric rings starting with your concern, then your influence and lastly, and smallest, your control. Unfortunately, most of us live in our area of concern. These are things like global warming, economic recessions, wars, etc. We have no control over those things, but this is where we spend most of our time. The second, smaller Circle of Influence, are the things that we can’t necessarily control, but the things we can influence. These include the people around us, people who follow us on social media, our household, and so on. The last and smallest circle is the Circle of Control. These are the things we can control daily: our habits, reactions, etc.
If we control our habits and become a better version of ourselves every single day, we become the people we want to be. We become the change that we want. Are we waking up on time, eating properly, exercising, praying, checking in on friends and family, DOING our work to our best ability, learning something every day, and so on? Or are we merely staring at our phone worrying about things we have no control or influence?
By becoming the person and the change that we want to see around ourselves, we directly influence those around us. As we influence those around us, we begin to make an even more significant change in our community or our friend group. About eight or so years ago, I was in terrible shape. I was not sleeping well (going to bed late, up late), eating well, meditating, working out, etc. Lethargic, living one day to the next, not having any real plans. I had no real challenging relationships; I didn’t care about a whole lot except doing the work I had to do and then going home and watching TV.
Make the Decision!
One day, while almost getting fired from my job, my boss, and a Navy SEAL, basically told me that I can either ‘get my shit together, or get fired.‘ It was my decision. So there began my journey of continual growth. I began doing all of those things. As I began to act and act day in and day out, I noticed that my brother also started working out. Then I saw my roommate began to work out. Then they were both eating better. We began challenging ourselves and going from 3 days a week to 4 days a week, and so on.
I am stopped in my tracks daily at the places I have gone to and the people I have met. I am incredibly grateful for the opportunities, the people, and the relationships that have come to me. This has been a long process and I am just getting started.
Make the decision. Make that phone call. Get to the gym. Have the conversation. EXECUTION TRUMPS KNOWLEDGE!
GO, DO & GROW