Focus in Confusing Times

Tricks in a Bucket

When I was younger I had a magic and circus tricks bucket list. Tricks that I loved and wanted to be able to perform one day. When I first saw others doing them, they looked impossible.

One of them was a straitjacket escape. I used to go down to Covent Garden and watch the street performers thinking, “I could never do that.” And now I do, I learned it in my 20’s.

Another is a one-handed riffle shuffle. I had seen several magicians do it at The Magic Circle over the last couple of years and thought that it looked knuckle-crunchingly impossible. However, after three weeks of lockdown, I could do it.

However, there are other tricks that I could never do.  At one point I dreamed of becoming an aerial artist with Cirque du Soleil. That was never going to happen and certainly isn’t now!

Some things we can achieve, some we can’t. Sometimes it is not obvious which is which, but it is worth spending some time thinking about what is and isn’t possible for us.

All Change

I was reminded recently by Antoinette Dale Henderson at a PSA event of the Kübler-Ross Change Curve. We’re all solidly on this curve at the moment because we have all faced a significant recent change. My guess is that most of us are oscillating between the bottom of the curve and the beginning of the ascent out of it, between Depression/ Confusion through Experiment to Decision. I doubt that many of us have reached Integration yet.

This is fine, this is natural, don’t beat yourself up about it. We all have to find a way up the curve that suits us. 

“I can’t change world, but I can change the world in me” (Bono, U2 in “Rejoice” )

I have long been a fan of Stephen Covey, ever since I read 7 Habits of Highly Successful People (#ad)  years ago.

One of my favourite concepts in that book is the “Circles of Concern and Influence”. You may find this easier to visualise if you picture a toilet roll that you may or may not have hoarded a few weeks ago.

The outer diameter of the toilet roll is your circle of concern. The stuff that worries you. If you spend a lot of time on social media and/ or watching the news, that circle will be quite big. 

The inside circle is your circle of influence. The stuff you can do something about. Areas where you can make a difference. This will be smaller than the circle of concern. 

Find your Inner Space, Man

Whenever we focus on anything, it takes time, energy and mental space.

Covey’s brilliant insight is that we benefit from focussing on our circle of influence and not our circle of concern. Watch the news less, spend less time on social media. This will reduce the size of our circle of concern. Focus on the things we can change. If we focus on our circle of influence we will find that it grows bigger and starts to eat up the inside bit of the circle of concern.

As we do this we should feel more energised and less stressed. Yes, we will have bad days and good days. But we will be starting to climb the curve.

Work out which tricks you might be able to do and focus on learning those.

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