FranklinCovey Consultant Blogs | Renee Tomlinson | February, 2009
A mental health professional, referring to the physiological impact of stress, said the adrenal gland in the average person is likely 25 years older than he/she is because of over-use. Adrenaline is the flight or fight chemical which increases our physical strength and heightens our senses when we are in dangerous situations. Competing for a parking spot near the mall entrance is likely not a life or death situation calling for a shot of adrenaline.
As a person who has accessed adrenaline more than recreationally and can “catastrophize” (new word — just hasn’t made it to the dictionary), with the best of ‘em, I am learning to slow the flow of negative external messages and stick with reality as a way to calm myself in anxious moments.
Relate this to the “Circle of Influence/Circle of Concern“, a core concept from The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. The only things we personally can control are our words and actions. Our behavior, then, comprises the inner Circle of Influence which will either have a positive or negative impact on other people or situations. The outer Circle of Concern is composed of people, events, and situations that we choose to care or even worry about. When I teach this concept in my workshops, I am struck by two sentences people often say when they come to understand it: “Now I know what to focus on.” Or, “Now I know what to let go of.”
Anxious about_____? (Fill in the blank). My advice is to choose to remain calm by focusing on the Circle of Influence:
- What can you practice and become proficient or even great at? Perfect practice makes perfect.
- Who/what is most important to you? Focus and spend time with these people and on these activities.
- What do you choose to access? What needs to be turned-off?
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Speaking of Paradigm Shifts: while teaching in Calgary recently, a guy in my workshop, (who I would guess to be in his late 20’s), shared this. Fresh out of college he took what was to be a two week vacation riding the rails in Europe. The two weeks passed quickly and he decided to extend his stay — by eight months! He went from place to place and worked odd jobs, sometimes for only a day at a time, just to earn enough money for food and maybe a place to stay at night. Really, he was on an all inclusive “Paradigm Shift tour” gaining the kind of learning that only experience can provide. He got really clear on needs vs. wants. He went on to say that although he is now an established professional with a good salary, nice car, and HDTV, he knows full well that these material items he’s acquired are wants not needs.
In 1997, when the Red River burst its restraints and swept through Grand Forks, North Dakota, almost every home had flood damage. Residents considered themselves “fortunate” if only their basement was flooded. Many residents lost their house, car, and everything else they owned. A TV camera crew followed a woman as she returned to what was left of the home she and her family had made for the past 25 years. As the house was unstable, she quickly went to try to salvage what she could of family pictures and heirlooms. Although she gently handled these items, many disintegrated in her hands. At one point, holding a soggy photo, she brushed tears aside and said to the interviewer, “during the past several weeks I’ve gotten very clear on the things that are important to me — and I realize they aren’t things.”
In these wacky economic times that renowned management consultant Ram Charan describes as a “100 year flood” what’s your mental map when it comes to essentials vs. nice-to-haves? The Habits of Private Victory help us to choose, visualize, clarify our values and then exercise integrity to execute on what is most important. Why not do a major review of your mission statement? www.franklincovey.com/missionbuilder is a great place to start. Ensure you are perfectly clear on needs vs. wants and that you are spending time with the people and activities that are most important to you.