A few months ago, I wrote a post on why you should care what people think. I’d link you to it, but I’m pretty sure I posted it on the deceased 3 Ways to Take It. The basis of that post was that an “I don’t care what people think” attitude did more harm than good because it put your reputation at risk. And at the end of the day, your reputation is all you have. You’re gonna see me do something today that I don’t normally do in a post or in relationships when I’m sure I’m right:
I’m going to take back my pain point and renege on the other assertions I made in that post
even though you probably don’t remember or haven’t seen what I’m talking about.
I’m going to renege because caring what people think has led me to headaches, stress, reduced elasticity and increased flaccidity. It’s resulted in extended conversations about people, situations, and things over which I’ve had no control. Caring what people think has not only reduced the quality of my writing, but also the frequency. It’s caused me to miss potential opportunities and potential readers. Little did I know that while I was thinking about what people thought and caring about what people cared about that I was digging myself into a less than pleasurable hole.
Instead of focusing on how I could be the best writer I could be, I was focused on how I could be better than the next one and why I wasn’t already. I was focused on why people ran from the comment section on my post days, and why people were so reluctant to share my content. I was worried about the context in which my name was used by people that don’t and won’t matter unless I let them.
Caring what people think has been the tragic flaw of my character. And it wasn’t until I picked up the 7 Habits of Highly Successful People that it finally clicked as to why I’d been failing or — at the very least — underperforming.
Stephen Covey talked about 2 things in the 1st chapter of the book that exposed a problem and presented a solution at the same time. Those 2 things are the Circle of Influence and the Circle of Concern.
According to Covey, the Circle of Influence includes all the things in our daily lives that we have control over. For example, we can control things like our attitudes, what we eat, how often and what we write, how often we work out or study, and how we talk to people. The Circle of Concern deals with those things over which we have no control like the strengths and weaknesses of others, problems in the environments we spend most of our time, and circumstances or situations that arise.
And as you can probably tell from the last post I wrote about the book, proactive people focus on their Circle of Influence while reactive folks spend the majority of their time in the Circle of Concern placing blame on anything and anybody other than themselves. And since they’ve turned over control to their circumstances, they’ve effectively shrunken their Circle of Influence and held their opportunity for success captive. Put more simply in the words of Covey directly from the book and on a page I don’t know because I’m looking at my Kindle and only see the percentage read:
As long as we are working in our Circle of Concern, we empower the things within it to control us. We aren’t taking the proactive initiative ncessary to effect positive change.
When you allow outside factors to supersede internal control, you open the door to a wave of negativity that can lead you to a trough of negativity, doubt, and stunted personal growth. And the more control you concede to your Circle of Concern, the more opportunities you’ll miss and the harder it’ll be to break out of it. I can say this with confidence because it happened to me.
I lost interest in writing for a core portion of my audience. My desire to post my best content waned since I figured it’d be skipped or receive a poor response. And in those weeks I didn’t write for that part of my audience, who knows how many potential readers and people of influence I missed because I was so wrapped up in things over which I had no control?
I’ve started to see things differently. I’m slowly letting go of the concern with what people are thinking or the rate at which they’re interacting with my content. It doesn’t matter (as much) how a post is outwardly received as long as I’m inwardly happy with what I produced. I’ve had to accept that people will come and go, not retweet, not like a post to Facebook, or not bother to read what I have to say because they don’t care for my writing and that it’s okay.
I’ve learned that you can’t make anybody do anything they don’t want or feel compelled to do. All you can do is be the best version of yourself and know that you will capture the attention of the like-minded.
And I’ll tell you what, the reconfiguration of my thought process has been incredibly liberating. I don’t mean like Hail to the V because that would be anatomically incorrect, but liberating nonetheless. Of course there are still challenges and areas of improvement, but I’m writing the best stuff that I’ve ever written and it makes me happy. This post is evidence of that.
So as you move forward, try to be aware of how often you’re operating in your Circle of Influence versus your Circle of Concern. You’re bound to spend some time in each, but you have the power to not live your life in a bubble of personal mediocrity.
P.S. Check out my latest post for UPTOWN Magazine: 3 Things Money Can Buy That Will Help Your Love Life
P.S.S. If I had advertising acumen and an actual advertising job, I’d probably have conceptualized this commercial: