‘Are you chasing the sun or fleeing from the falcon?’ This quote was inscribed in a piece of modern art that I came across in a reference book at the school library. I was an inquisitive teenager then. My mind was sprouting dreams of the future and the wonderful things that I would do when I graduated.
I made a promise to my young self that I would always do my best. For all intents and purposes, I was a sparrow ‘chasing the sun’.
Little did I know that the journey to the glorious mountaintop of fame and fortune is a lifelong trudge. It is a trek over impossible terrain. It is full of boobytraps that fate notoriously sets on your path. And the agonizing advancement is fueled by fear for most of the way.
After numerous bumps and bruises I found myself gradually becoming the sparrow ‘fleeing from the falcon’. Fear may be necessary as an important piece in self-preservation but perpetual dread results in a reactive existence burdened with suppressed aspirations.
Don’t send the youth down that unforgiving path. Instead inject them with confidence and the belief that they can succeed in whatever they set out to achieve. Then show them how we stand up to adversity and calamity with alacrity and determination. And how with love and compassion we can guarantee the survival of mankind.
Steven Covey in his book The Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People defines the circle of concern and the circle of influence. His ideas explain how we can build resilience through the toughest times.
The circle of concern and the circle of influence are mutually exclusive. They are constantly fighting for space because one expands at the expense of the other. This conflict is continuously staged in the arena or your consciousness and the results shape your outlook, your experiences, and eventually your outcomes.
Sometimes the circle of concern triumphs. That is when affairs that you have absolutely no control over blur your vision, like sweat streaming over your eyes. Your view is obscured further by a recurring avalanche of daily news that knocks you down with one punch, and as you attempt to recover it strikes you again like a thunderbolt.
When the circle of concern is overwhelming it becomes an unproductive indulgence. It craves repeated doses of breaking news infused with intrigue, gossip and innuendo. Credible journalism and fake news mingle freely and render it impossible to distinguish one from the other. A healthy sprinkle of controversy, drama and conspiracy added to the stories makes them even more irresistible.
However, instead of making you stronger they only sap the life out of you. They leave you feeling powerless and helpless against the blows that providence regularly sends your way.
In contrast, when the circle of influence wins, the issues that you have a firm grip of feature prominently. Unlike the opposing perspective, this one in particular gives you clarity with a version of truth and reality that you have the power to change.
When the circle of influence is dominant in your life you spend more time on the things that make a difference around you. You pay more attention to the people in your environment and offer a healing peace of mind. And like meditative breathing it keeps you in the present and leads you along the natural path of wellbeing.
You may therefore wish to ignore those friends who have watched every documentary ever filmed about Coronavirus and who are now furiously writing scripts for the next dozen. Their doomsday tales will keep the masses securely enclosed within the circle of concern, like fattened cattle pensively awaiting slaughter.
Instead spend time with Rotarians and people from other organizations that have a practical plan to address the pandemic. Invest your energy with those who are working inch-by-inch to shield society and prepare, in whatever way imaginable, to deal with a possible surge of infections and illness.
The essence of Rotary is to support vulnerable communities in times of need and the world needs us now more than ever. It is crucial that our organization continues to function and grow. Work with your club leaders to implement the set plans so that you can focus on those groups that most need our assistance.
Help the club to prepare for the upcoming leadership succession to ensure a seamless transition and see that there is no down time. Review your plans and take this time to reflect and seek inspiration for a post-COVID world. Remember that every sunrise is a miracle, so be thankful and live each day as it comes.