One of my favourite quotes is from George Bernard Shaw: “This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap; the being a force of nature instead of a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.”
How many times a day do we complain about the situation we are in — the weather, our boss, our spouse, the politicians… Do we ever feel frustrated or angry? If we do, are we holding someone else responsible for making us angry?
Every time we do that are we not, in effect, acting like the “selfish little clods of ailments and grievances” that Shaw is warning us not to be? In our daily social media interactions, do we tend to be free with our opinions and criticisms of Modi, Kejriwal, Salman Khan or anyone else? Do these, in any way, contribute to the joy of working towards a mighty purpose?
As I have talked about in the past, all these are examples of what Stephen Covey calls operating from our Circle of Concern — a space where we are victims of the events and situations that life throws at us. Operating within this circle is normally a comfortable space for most of us — a space where we don’t need to take ownership or responsibility for ourselves.
A funny example that I heard recently was about one of our employees complaining to our HR department about our new appraisal system — where teams appraise themselves rather than having a boss do it. “Earlier, I could blame the boss for rating me low. Now we have to take responsibility for our own ratings — that’s so unfair! Who do I blame?”
Do we know that we count? Do we operate from the space that we count? Do we do this in every sphere of our lives? Operating from the Circle of Concern makes us powerless and impotent. It is only when we operate from our Circle of Influence that we make a difference. We all know this. But we choose to ignore it.
We may have various opinions about Arvind Kejriwal, but the fact is that he realized that he counts and that he can do something about it. As did a Modi. And a Gandhi. We have to realize that every one of us counts. We have a unique and sacred purpose for our existence.
Instead of wasting time and energy in complaints, criticisms and blame-game, it is our responsibility to discover and deliver what we have been purposed to contribute in every situation we are in — at home, at work, in the community, or for the nation and the world.
A simple technique that works for me is to observe myself, from time to time, to check whether I am operating from my powerful self or my powerless self. The very act of observing myself helps me shift to my powerful self when I see myself operating as a selfish clod.
As you follow this practice with rigor, exercising your personal power (not positional power) will become second nature to you. The Connected Ager is a person who knows he counts and is committed to making a difference in every aspect of his life. Are you operating from your powerful self?
Sudhakar Ram is the co-founder and CEO of Mastek, and author of The Connected Age — a futurist’s vision for a new world and a guidebook about personal change. He writes regularly on the New Constructs Blog.