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Three Circles of Life

I just put my phone down after another gloomy telecon. Am reminiscing about ‘normal’ conversations in the pre-Covid era. How drastically have our dialogues altered in the last 6 months. Business owners are worried about handing over pink slips and slashing salaries, and their loan moratoriums, employees are anxious about EMIs and apprehensive about their names appearing in the next retrenchment list, spouses who longed to spend quality time, desperately seek a break from each other, kids who hated school want to be back just to spend time with their friends…..Whenever we talk to each other lately, more often than not, we try to find solace in wallowing in collective self pity. Reminds me of a wisecrack by Sadhguru. A tea stall owner indulges in hundreds of conversations with his routine clients. He suggests how Kohli should bat, how Nirmala Sitharaman should disburse funds amongst poor, how Modi should deal with the Chinese encroachment etc etc. He basically has advice for everyone and knows everything except for making good tea!

I am compelled to revisit the model of Three Circles of Life taught to me by one of my mentors:

1)Circle of Concern- These are external situations that impact us but we have no control over these issues. Reactive people focus 70% of their time and energy on issues like LAC standoff between India-China, Sushant Singh Rajput Suicide vs Murder conjectures, or forest fires in California, wasting energy in the process leading to a feeling of disempowerment.


2)Circle of Influence- These include issues that we can do something about, however, the outcomes are partially impacted by factors out of our control. We basically ‘show up’ so as not to miss any opportunity, we give our best to create chances. This circle is about the attitude we adopt and goals we internalize. We may not be able to control certain external situations but we can control our reactions for optimum results. Most people spend just 20% of their resources on this circle.


3)Circle of Control- The issues within this circle can be linked to creating or output. We control our thoughts, words and actions knowing fully well that we have very limited control over the thoughts or actions of others. The only way to effect change is by acting on factors within this circle, but we end up spending just 10% time and energy within the Circle of Control.


During the commencement of Mahabharat war, Arjun was focusing on his Circle of Concern, distressed about standing up against his relatives. He had absolutely no choice over whose great grandson or cousin he was. The entire Bhagavad Gita is about Shri Krishna bringing Arjun’s focus from Circle of Concern to Circle of Control i.e Karma Yoga.

During no other time in my life has the essence of Gita and Karma Yoga been so relevant. I pledge to spend at least 70% time in my Circle of Control. Its my humble submission to all my acquaintances to refrain from indulging in accustomed repetitive repugnant discussions about the pandemic over and over again. It is not as much the external circumstances, but the nature of our thoughts and words that determine the quality of our life.


Ralph Waldo Emerson rightly said:


Sow a Thought and you reap an Action

Sow an Act and you reap a Habit

Sow a Habit and you reap a Character

Sow a Character and you reap a Destiny

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