Sequel to our previous discussion on the above topic let us continue by looking at the remaining five centers of influence to our attitudes and behaviors which include: work, church, enmity, material possessions and pleasure. If you were not able to read that, please look at the previous posts on this blog. That will enable you re-enact the previous discussion before continuing with this.
- The Enemy:
The enemy-centered individual always tries to prove to someone that he/she too can achieve a feat. If you are enemy-centered, you’ll always have this feeling that someone is showing off; you’ll develop some elements of jealousy; you’ll feel threatened by any progress made by someone else. You begin to develop the spirit of unhealthy competition mentioned in our earlier post. You see enemy all around you; you feel insecure by the actions of others. Because someone you don’t like (a family member or a colleague) just acquired a house in Lekki, you must get your own in VGC. When you’re acquiring your degree; you’re doing it because of that family enemy who has two degrees. Enemy centeredness! The irony is that the people we see as enemies or rivals as the case may be are not even interested in our affairs.
If you are work centered, you believe that other things do not count much. You pay so much attention to the job negating yourself and your skills that you even become unproductive. Jim Rohn once said “if you want to move up the ladder, do not just work hard-though you should do that-but work more on yourself”. If you beam more light on the job but you do not have the ability to see something new, something different, a new idea, a new approach, you’ll end up repeating the same task the same way and you’ll probably be getting the same monotonous result. But, if you bean the light on yourself and try to propel yourself higher; try to develop attitudes and skills that can push you forward into a new horizon, you’ll surely notice something new in the job and you’ll find yourself doing something different, applying a new idea and a new approach, you’ll surely get a different result. A manager of an organization who is too busy with the work that he never attends any seminar/training, he never read any book; he never acquires further skill or knowledge to meet with the contemporary dynamism of the ever growing society would soon run the company down even with his many years of experience.
Another behaviour common to work-centered individuals is that they negate the basics. They have no time for families and friends. You must find time, an appropriate time to stay away from work and create room for other basic things of life. What about hanging out with friends? What about going to the movie with the family? What about a day off for yourself and your staff? An African proverb says “He who chases after material wealth at the expense of his life shall soon leave his wealth for others to enjoy”.
Many of us are church centered. Some have even made their lives pastor- centered. Whatever the pastor says is correct. You therefore throw away your own thinking; your own wisdom is dumped in the gutter. They can do anything to please the pastor or the church against their own will. The irony is that these kind of people are often far away from God. They lack the conception and the understanding of who God truly is and how He works. They therefore see their pastor as their God or the custodians of their God. The more the pastor grows, the more the pastor-centered individuals shrink in ideas; the gap keeps expanding. The pastor develops himself through reading, participation and seminars. He attends trainings and studies the word of God; the pastor-centered individuals never read anything; they never attend any life-changing seminars; they go to church only to worship the pastor.
Another group of church-centered individuals always think of what the church would say about whatever they do. They must please the church and displease themselves. Sometimes, they even please the church and displease God. They are so much involved in projects and programs of the church that even the simple acts of spirituality elude them because they’re too involved with the administration of organs and policies thereby forsaking the primary essence of going to church in the first place.
If your life is pleasure centered, you’ll blow all your income on parties and ceremonies. You’ll spend your study time in the night clubs. You’ll beg, borrow or steal just to satisfy a life of pleasure. You’ll spend your school fees on your birthday party. Pleasure centered life most times stems from having access to free funds or proceeds of corruption, robbery, bequeathals etc. Hardly do you see a hardworking individual being pleasure centered.
On another side of it, pleasure-centered individuals erroneously base their “efficiency and effectiveness” on pleasure. Have you seen someone who says “I read better when I listen to music; I understand better when I smoke or when I’m drunk”? These are manifestations of pleasure-centered consciousness!
These are individuals whose essence of existence is tilted towards acquiring material things, cars, houses, diamonds, gold etc. Their goal in life is to ride the latest model of the cars in vogue; live in mansions of the best locations of the world and acquire all they can and many more. Their values, their security, their wisdom, their knowledge of life are all placed on material possessions. Their actions are dictated by what they have and whatever threatens their possessions threatens their existence. They are also very likely to develop unhealthy competition attitude which in turn breeds jealousy, greediness and inordinate ambition. They always ensure that no one acquires more than they do. According to Stephen Covey “When they are in the presence of those who have more, they feel inferior; when they are in the presence of those who have less, they feel superior” . It is a source of unstable life.
Summary and Conclusion:
We can see that all forms of centeredness, all sources of life influence identified above are all flawed; we can see that they are not dependable especially when they reign supreme and govern our attitude and perspectives. None of the entire centers of influence can stand alone to give an individual a fulfilled life. What then is the right center of influence? What source of influence can suffice?
In identifying principle as the best source of influence, Stephen Covey created a Circle of Influence where principle is at the center and all other sources mentioned above are placed round it.
What this implies is that while we cannot deny the elements of everything mentioned above in our daily lives, they must be governed by principle. When they are principle-guided, they cannot reign supreme; they are put under control. My going to church, my dealing with my spouse, keeping traditions of the family, acquisition of materials (money and other possessions), my job, my dealings with my friends, my perceived enemies, and my own self development would all be principle-guided. A principle-guided approach to life fears no external threats; it fears no failure; it endures; it applies the best form of attitude and makes the individual fully in charge and in control of whatever concept he/she is applying. Behaviours and attitudes influenced by principle make you stand out; doing things differently in order to achieve success in life. The basic fundamentals of principle are: deep reflection/thought before acting, fundamental truths, consistency, virtues and consideration for others.
Adapted from: Stephen Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective people.