IT IS BETTER TO LIGHT ONE SMALL CANDLE THAN TO CURSE THE DARKNESS

Today’s title is a quote by Confucius, the Chinese philosopher. It is a quote that holds lessons about change.

There is hardly anyone that does not want a better life. We want a life that is full and complete. But the better life we desire calls to embrace change. (And for my Nigerian folks, this is even more important in this era of Change, the slogan of the Buhari regime). But one thing: we need to learn how to go about that change.

In his highly acclaimed book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey, among other things he harped on, highlights two key things we need to put into consideration in seeking for change:

  1. Circle of Concern
  2. Circle of Influence

Understanding these two things will help us know where to focus our energies in trying to create changes for the life we desire.

Circle of Concern

The Circle of Concern is much larger circle, bigger than than the Circle of Influence. It represents all that bothers us; those things that are of concern to us, e.g. our health, national security (For Nigerians, perhaps the Boko Haram threat), our finances, our kids, parents, etc. They include everything that gives you a cause for concern as an individual.

Circle of Influence

The Circle of Influence is a smaller circle—a subset of the Circle of Concern. It represents those things that gives us concern—but that we have control over. We don’t need a lifetime of experience and experimentation to realize that there are things that are beyond our control. But people who will be successful at creating changes focus on their circle of influence—on the things that that are within their control. They would rather seek to light one small candle (that which they can do) rather than curse the darkness (by whining and complaining). Complaining never solves a problem—only practical, proactive and pragmatic steps in the right direction will.

I once had this desire for someone to change. I badly wanted the person to change because I was emotionally uncomfortable by this person’s action. But this person wouldn’t see any reason for change. I was bitter and frustrated for a long time. But then I was reading Covey’s book one day when I received this eye-opener. I realized that I might not be able to change this person but I could choose my response, my attitude to this person’s weakness. It was liberating when I changed my focus.

You too might have a circumstance, a person, a past mistake or whatever that you have been wishing to be different. And like me, you are becoming frustrated and angry and bitter. The thing is: you have the freedom to change your response. The key thing here is yourself. You are choosing not to give anything external the right to determine your happiness.

And another thing: the more you exercise your freedom in the area of your Circle of Influence, the more it expands. You might soon realize that as you focus on what you can control; that as you focus on changing yourself, the change you want in that person or that circumstance just comes easily.

Today, make the decision to light your small candle and quit the fruitless cursing of the darkness!

Have a great day ahead.

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