There is a story that Warren Buffet tells about him and his close friend Bill Gates.
Apparently the story goes that Warren and Bill were together with Bill Gate’s father.
Bill’s father, I guess on a whim, asked them both to think of ONE word that they would attribute to both of their success.
Now, this is a large question because you have two massively wealthy and massively successful people, yet two totally different personalities.
Warren is a trader, his energy and talent is having the best timing.
Bill is an inventor, an innovator, a creator.
So how can both of these two people, both seemingly so different possibly come up with the same word to explain their success, yet that is exactly what they did.
The one word they wrote on the sheet of paper?
Focus was their one single word for being successful.
I would think so many other words that I would have associated with their success, innovation, timing, etc but focus would have never been on my radar.
But on a deeper more spiritual level, focus really is kind of everything, isn’t it?
The way I like to talk about focus is to shift it to a word that’s a little more popular in the spiritual world, awareness.
Awareness is like a flashlight.
So here’s how this works in our world.
Imagine that you are in a room that you're familiar with and it is completely dark.
Think of awareness as having a flashlight with you in that dark room.
It can only flash on where you place it towards. It’s that simple.
The rest of the room is still very much in the dark.
You only have one flashlight, this flashlight is your consciousness.
So you have your flashlight, yet oftentimes, we forget we have this flashlight and we forget most importantly to focus it on something.
It just kind of goes everywhere and on everything, honestly we do this. Like a strobe light flashing at a middle school dance, I mean it’s just everywhere.
So before we can get our energy back, we need to understand this single foundation, which is focus, which is awareness, which is the flashlight.
So let’s talk about the flashlight and why it’s so important.
There’s’ a great book that I will reference often called The User Illusion, and in this book, it talks about consciousness, and it will literally blow your mind.
But the one thing it says about consciousness is that consciousness is actually about OMITTING the input.
You can’t possibly process all the sensations you are experiencing every second.
You’re constantly discarding information.
So the flashlight is really really important because it is going to naturally DISCARD a lot of information by shining it.
By deciding where to flash the flashlight of your consciousness, you are NOT shining it on an enormous amount of available information or things to think about.
So this is SO important because by deciding WHAT to focus on, you are deciding WHAT NOT to focus on.
So now that we know the importance of what we focus on, let’s talk about what to focus on and what a brilliant thinker Steven Covey discovered about focusing on what we can and can’t control and why this is really really good news for you.
The circle of influence and the circle of concern, now I’m going to update this language in more spiritual self-help terms.
I’m going to say circle of (power) control and circle of (weakness) no control.
The key point with these circles is going back to focus.
Think of the flashlight as we go through this.
So there’s the circle of influence ( power ) and the circle of concern (weakness)
The key thing to think about is that this is a BIG indicator of your energy and personal power that is within you. This isn’t a silly thing, this is very spiritual and very true and tested in the universe we live within.
So the circle of influence is what you can ACTUALLY control.
Sadly we spend A LOT of our time in the circle of concern. Let’s just call it what it is, this is WORRY, and it’s been around a long, long time.
Right now there’s a lot to worry about but there’s always a lot to worry about. People thought the world was ending in both World Wars. We aren’t the first people to experience life and worry and we will not be the last.
The Circle of Concern is all of the things you are concerned with, or if you are more comfortable with the term, what you are worried about.
Remember that there is nothing wrong with having concerns. This is about how you can get your energy back to you.
Spending too much time, too much focus on your Circle of Concern will exhaust you.
This is the case because there isn't really anything you can do about this Circle.
Often times we aren't conscious of WHAT we are focusing on and that's why this illustration is so helpful.
If you are feeling tired and overwhelmed and low on energy, there' as a really good chance that you are focusing in your Circle of Concern.
The Circle of Influence, however, gives us energy. The reason is that this reminds us of what we actually have control over. As soon as you move your focus into your Circle of Influence you will know it because you will feel it. You will feel your energy come back to you because you will notice what you actually have an influence over.
Here's a quick example of how this works so you can try it out for yourself. Check out my blog post on the Worksheets so you can download them, fill them out for yourself, and put them somewhere close so you can remember.
Example of current major concern.
Circle of Concern
how you're loved ones are handling it
when it will end
what people are saying online
Circle of Influence
how much rest you are taking
the small daily pleasures (books, audiobooks, baths)
limiting your social media time
who you choose or don't choose to listen to
creativity time (writing, painting, singing, dancing)
journaling about your experiences
learning meditation or a daily practice to calm the analytical mind
All of these are wonderful ways to get your energy back. Your circles will look differently from mine, but filling it out and seeing it for yourself will pay huge dividends.
Remember it is ALL ABOUT FOCUS. Focus on your Circle of Influence and watch your energy come back to you.