Focus on your inner circle

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By Marc Lopez

Magnificent Mondays

Monday, August 18, 2014


IT’S 4 p.m. on a gloomy afternoon. Vedran Smailovic is beside his window watching his neighbors sullenly lining up for bread on one of the few remaining bakeries open in Sarajevo. Without notice a mortal shell impacts the middle of the line instantly killing 22 of his neighbors, young and old!

He must have been livid with anger. Should he brandish a rifle? Yell profanities at the enemy? He chooses to do the unthinkable. The next day, Vedran puts on his full concert attire, carries his cello, places a plastic chair on top of the blast crater, and plays Adagio in G Minor at 4 p.m. in memory of his neighbors. He plays the piece everyday for the next 22 days amid burning homes and trucks; dropped bombs and whizzing bullets.

There is always something good you can choose to do in any situation. Vedran Smailovic could have focused on blaming the people responsible for the Bosnian war, but he decided to focus on what he could do - stop the war with his cello.

In last week’s article, we were reminded that when we change our words, we change our world. Stephen Covey says that another excellent way to practice being proactive is in the area of our focus. What area of your life do you spend most of your time and energy on?

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If your life focus were a circle, it would consist of two. The inner circle Covey labeled is your Circle of Influence, this refers to concerns that you can personally change. Your diet, your attitudes, your personal relationships. The outer circle is your Circle of Concern. This could be the weather, the economy, city traffic. These are things you have no or very little control of.

Lasting changes in your life will take place if you spend more of your time and effort on your circle of influence rather than on your circle of concern. The more time you focus on things under your direct control, the bigger your circle of influence becomes!

Which circle do you spend most of your time on? Listen to your self-talk. When you’re in your Circle of Concern, you use “have’s” more often: I’ll be happy when I have the promotion… If only I had a more patient spouse… If only I had a more supportive boss. On the other hand, if you are focused on your Circle of Influence, you use “be’s” more consistently: I can be more disciplined…I will be more prepared for our meetings…I will be a better listener to my teenager.

Today is full of blessings! Multiply them by focusing on what you can do, and disregarding what you have little control of! Covey says, “Anytime we think the problem is ‘out there,’ that thought is the problem.” Make today the most magnificentMonday at home and at work, focus on the one thing you have total control of - yourself!

Play your cello! There is always something good you can choose to do in any situation!

Choose to have a Magnificent Monday!

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on August 18, 2014.

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