For all the kids who are soon going to be entering adulthood, I just have this one advice. If you learn the art of balancing your circle of influence, you will grow up to be a really strong and mature adult.
This is something I learnt over the years of entering and maintaining adulthood. The range of emotions and experiences that an individual goes through while growing up is quite complex and the art of deriving learnings out of those experiences is not an easy task.
What is a circle of influence?
A circle of influence is a circle that constitutes all the things that can be controlled by an individual. When a baby is born, the circle of influence of that baby is really small – it constitutes crying for every survival need. That is all a baby can do. As the baby grows to be a child, the circle of influence grows. Now a child can control when he wants to walk or run or crawl or play. As the child grows up and starts going to school – he can further control his schedule, his habits, his relationships and many more things. The same child later has the freedom to choose his career and later his profession and his life partner. Life goes on and on increasing the circle of influence.
The bigger the circle of influence, the higher are the stakes. Your circle of influence also depends on the kind of work you do. Shri Narendra Modi definitely has a much larger circle of influence than me because he can control the nation to a large extent. A number of social activists, politicians, industrialists have a big circle of influence. One must strive to increase his/her circle of influence to an extent that he/she can handle it peacefully.
A mature human being knows two things
- He has a defined circle of influence. He knows exactly what is within the circle and what is outside of it. He plans for the stuff that is inside and doesn’t stress over what is outside. This distinction is the key to happy and mature life. One who has the wisdom to understand the boundary of his circle of influence lives through every situation blissfully. When I was growing up, I was a much-stressed child. Everything used to make me nervous. The exams, my result, my image in front of people, my looks, my confidence and everything else. This is very obvious for a young adult. But over the period of time, I realized that I can only control what I can control. I cannot control people’s opinion about me. I can change myself in any direction but I need to decide the direction myself. Only this attitude turned me from a people pleaser to the person that I am today.
- He knows how to grow his circle of influence at a slow and steady pace. He doesn’t want to grow his circle just in a day, if he does that – he knows that he won’t have the resources to control all that is inside the circle. He plans for it and slowly steadily expands his circle. While I was growing up, I was always in a hurry for making my circle of Influence larger. I was not aware of this concept but unconsciously I was trying to do the same. Many times I even made mistakes because I was in a hurry to influence the world. I lost friends and damaged relationships because I was in such a hurry to be a responsible person who is looked up to. These things take time. If we take our learnings and failures in stride, what we want will eventually happen.
People who fail in balancing their circle of influence usually make following mistakes:
- They don’t know how to control their circle. I have seen grown-ups who cannot handle their professions or their studies or their relationships. They get just too overwhelmed by things that they are expected to control. This is generally a disaster and leads an individual to all sorts of frustrations in life. These are typically the people who are depressed or have suicidal thoughts because escaping is eventually the only route they are left with if they don’t learn to control their circle.
- They want a huge circle in a very short period of time. Have you heard of celebrities who grew up too fast and got too much media attention too quickly? Eventually they land up in some or other controversy just because they grew their circle too quickly and never learnt the art of controlling their circle.
- They cannot distinguish what is inside and outside of the circle. This is a very common problem that most of us suffer with. I know of few of a people who stress over every negative news that is sold to them on the News Channels. They get sleepless nights if our Indian Army men are getting killed at the border. They worry when they hear of robberies happening in broad daylight. They love the “crime patrol” kind of shows. I don’t want to say that you should not be aware of what is happening around the world or not have compassion towards people. But if you have over-compassion, it doesn’t help. It is something that is outside of your circle and it is best to let go off that feeling.
- They believe the emotions that they feel are outside of their circle. This is one of the key problem, many of us believe that a negative emotion that is stirred inside of us are caused due to something outside. “He made me angry or mad” or “She makes me feel really happy” – when we say such things, we give the responsibility of our emotions to others. We allow them to control something that should be inside our circle. The emotions that arise inside my head are supposed to be controlled by me. If I hand over my emotions in somebody else’s circle of influence – then I am practically like the baby with almost negligible circle of influence.
Balance your circle and if you can do that well enough – people are going to appreciate your maturity wholeheartedly.