Can I Do Anything?
Yes, of course you can. The problem of improving the educational system is enormous. It's unlikely to be solved in the next few years. On the other hand, if we wait until a global solution is found, implemented, and, what's more important, is proven to work, we are going to miss the action.
Some time ago I fell under the charm of Stephen Covey's book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. As several other very readable books on thinking, learning, self-improvement, the book is very graphical. I am especially fond of the following diagram
We each have a wide range of concern - our health, our children, problems at work, the national debt, nuclear war. We could separate those from things in which we have no particular mental or emotional involvement by creating a "Circle of Concern."
As we look at those things within our Circle of Concern, it becomes apparent that there are some things over which we have no real control and others that we can do something about. We could identify those concerns in the latter group by circumscribing them within a smaller Circle of Influence.
By determining which of these two circles is the focus of most of our time and energy, we can discover much about the degree of our proactivity.
Proactive people focus their efforts in the Circle of Influence. They work on the things they can do something about. The nature of their energy is positive, enlarging and magnifying, causing their Circle of Influence to increase.
Reactive people, on the other hand, focus their efforts in the Circle of Concern. They focus on the weakness of other people, the problems in the environment, and circumstances over which they have no control. Their focus results in blaming and accusing attitudes, reactive language, and increased feelings of victimization. The negative energy generated by that focus, combined with neglect in areas they could do something about, causes their Circle of Influence to shrink.
I think the best most of us can do is to take personal responsibility to contribute and to get more involved. In most cases this may mean doing something unusual, something one is unaccustomed to, something creative. Whatever you do - whether prevailing over your habits and education or going against peer pressure and accepted standards, you are following in footsteps of other creative people whose attitude to confronting problems is well expressed as
- S.R.Covey, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Simon & Schuster, 1990
- R. von Oech, A Whack on the Side of the Head, Warner Books, 1990
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