As we evolve consciousness and develop our thought processes, we come to understand that our behaviours (actions and inactions) are sometimes controlled by certain factors and forces beyond our own control. We begin to seek answers to many questions; we begin to ask why some things happen the way they do? Why does the same being experience happiness sometimes and pain at other times? Courage sometimes and fear at other times? Psychologists begin to provide answers and reasons why we experience certain emotions. We begin to understand that the same channel that breeds courage breeds fear; the same source of happiness can be a source of pain and ultimately, what gives life can also kill. As we engage with these channels or sources of influence, our emotions react to them. (They influence our feelings and thoughts as well as our actions). Some of these feelings (positive or negative) if not properly managed shape our lives towards a destructive end. Some of them when properly managed make us emerge stronger and more courageous to move on. The entities that constitute center of influence as identified by Stephen Covey include: the self, money, spouse, family, work, church, friendship, enmity, material possessions and pleasure . These are phenomena and institutions that exist to help us but atimes they are abused so much that they become our greatest woes.In this article, we shall be looking at these ten centers of influence which hitherto should be our sources of power, wisdom, security and knowledge as major contributors to our vulnerability, failures, and sometimes destruction.
- The Self:
An individual whose center of influence is self believes that the world is just as he has seen it. He loses the opportunity and gains of seeking knowledge and understanding from others and other institutions. He becomes an island; he is too satisfied with himself and his actions. When he deals with others, he is only saying ‘I’.
doesn’t trust you. He only accumulates but he doesn’t give out, self-fulfillment his only desire in life. Even when the environment is so much in need of his attention, he does not understand. Whenever he does charity, he does it for self aggrandizement; you could see his reaction when he feels you did not appreciate his charity. Do you really need appreciation when you do charity? When you listen to people read tributes at funerals, ask yourself how many people will read your own tribute and what will they say when the time comes. Joyce Meyer once said “If we live a self-directed, self-motivated, self-centered life, always needing to get our own way, then we’re going to be miserable in the end” The self as a center of influence can promote self-worth, self-fulfillment, self esteem, self-confidence but can destroy legacy if wrongly applied.
If your center of influence is money, you measure your worth by how much you earn. You are vulnerable and susceptible to anything that threatens your money. You find happiness only in money (painted paper with images of dead people on it). You are ready to sacrifice friendship, family, health and dignity on the altar of money. You do not believe that joy, peace and happiness can exist without money. You believe that money can buy you love, companionship, friendship etc. whatever money cannot do does not exist. You engage in all sorts of acts to make money; you forget that money can only solve monetary problems. There a millions of quotes about money but this one from Groucho Marx strikes me “While money can’t buy happiness, it certainly lets you choose your own form of misery”. Money is good but shouldn’t for any reason be our only center of influence.
Those who depend so much on their family name to go places tend to negate the fact that they too are created to make impact on the society. They are too conscious of preserving the family tradition that they lose their own identity. The truth is that they become too vulnerable that when the family structure is threatened, they lose everything. Parents who want their kids to preserve the family name and tradition tend to put so much control and restriction on them. They become too afraid that their children might ‘mismanage’ what they have preserved for many years. And that is actually what happens; the child grows up believing that his father is the alpha and the omega; he does not know beyond what his father knew; sometimes not even as much. They believe that the world begins and ends with their family name and tradition; they acquire properties all over the place for their children thereby limiting their own ability to aspire for greater heights. They chose spouses for their children so they could keep the family ties. They so much suppress their children that they begin to lack the ability to do their own thinking. They negate the right principle of training a child to do as much or even greater than his father. When the society changes accordingly, the child is trapped in the cocoon of his family tradition and cannot bring in the modern dynamism into the family philosophy; colossal failure sets in. That is why you see many notable men and women raising children who cannot represent them when they are gone. Before Chief Gani Fawehinmi, a Nigeria foremost Constitutional Lawyer and human rights activist passed on, he instructed that his chambers be closed down upon his demise even when his first son is a lawyer. His reason was to give his children the opportunity to develop their own legacy based on their own principles and set goals. He acknowledged the fact that his principles should not be forced on his children. Today, his more than 13 children are doing exploits in their different professions. His first son is already a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN).
It is very important to build a lasting family legacy; it is very important to develop a solid foundation for our children through education and material bequeathals but we must know where to draw the line so that the children could find a breathing space to set their own goals and aspire in their own directions.
Are you so buried in the influence of your friends that your own thought processes are being undermined? Do you lean on your friends so much that whatever affects your friendship affects your existence? You do not take decisions or make effort to do or say anything because you’re afraid of what your friends would say. In a gathering, you are just a figure head because your friends are gods that must be respected and whatever they say is right. You’re not sure of your actions and your opinions until your friends say they are cool. You need to grow up and out of this center of influence. People whose center of influence is friendship are easily lured into negative actions. One of the most dangerous thing about it is peer influence, you become the product of the behaviours and habits of your friends both good, bad and ugly
Are you so dependent on your spouse that you find it difficulty or impossible to contribute something to the union? Do you believe that only your spouse should show love, patience and kindness? Are you threatened by the absence of your spouse? Is it possible that the death of your spouse can shatter your entire existence? Do you take decisions only to react to the actions and inactions of your spouse? Your spouse is meant to complement you and not to replace you. If you close up your own endowment of knowledge and wisdom because you depend on that of your spouse, your own wisdom might die in you whereas your spouse needs it too.
To be continued…