Friday, June 22, 2012

Your Sphere of Influence

A Late Night Car Ride:

I was talking with a close friend the other evening about some pretty deep stuff: Life and its' meaning, Happiness and its' availability, Change and its' possibilities.  I began to explain to my friend that I often find myself thinking about the immensity of the world and all of those who live in it.  I explained to him that I often find myself in a state of mental turmoil, wrestling between my mere existence and the inevitability that I, myself, couldn't possibly make all of the positive changes to the world that I want.  

I've spent the better part of a month Blogging on the notion of Infinite Personal Growth/Change, and how it is certainly possible to keep striving for - and accomplishing more.  However, during that conversation with my friend, I realized that while we have infinite possibilities and opportunities to keep improving our individual selves, in the grand scheme of society and human existence, we run into some limits to growth.

During this conversation in an old, beat-up F-150, a question popped into my head: In the course of our lives, in doing the things we do - in other words, in constantly improving ourselves - is it better to change the lives of 20 people with 100% impact, or change the lives of 200 people with 10% impact?  In doing simple math, both changes will result in a 2000% "Net Impact" on people's lives - but which is better?  Is there a way we can combine the 2 and change 200 lives with 100% impact?

Sphere 1 vs. Sphere 2 - Which Makes Most Sense?

Sphere 1:

Sphere 1
Discussing this concept back and forth, my friend brought up the concept of Spheres of Influence - the idea that we all have people who we directly influence in our daily lives, people we indirectly influence, and people we don't influence; this is, at least, the widely-accepted definition of a Sphere of Influence.  In the diagram to the right, we see this premise clearly laid out: We can directly CONTROL a small amount of people (100% Impact), INFLUENCE a moderate amount of people (50-99% Impact), and CAN'T CONTROL the rest (1-49% Impact).  This diagram illustrates the example that popped into my head during that conversation with my friend: We can clearly impact a very small amount of people in a BIG way, but we can't necessarily impact a large amount of people in a big way.

Sphere 2:

Sphere 2
So, in scouring the Internet as I do day in and day out, I ran across a different Sphere of Influence - one that perfectly describes the second question I posed to myself: Is there a way to impact 200 lives with the same amount of Impact as our previous Sphere?   THIS Sphere is different in that it doesn't frame the outside circle as one that we can't influence, but rather one that we don't directly influence but still influence.  This Sphere illustrates that in changing ourselves, we impact everybody in some capacity.  These personal changes we make infinitely branch out to create change everywhere somehow!  For example, if one person decides to change their life in a positive way, those who directly know that person will be - and are - influenced by that change; then those individuals make changes, then influence, and the process will continue!

In the grand scheme of it all, we realistically can't do everything: we all can't be superman.  By making subtle changes in our lives, I realize that a single change and single decision may not necessarily impact somebody, say, on the other side of the world directly, but in some way or another, through the ripple effect, changes will be - and can be - made.

Realize that you have a lot more influence over the people around you, and the people not around you than you may think.  If defining yourself and making positive changes for yourself doesn't give you enough motivation to make those changes, then let the inevitability of your Sphere of Influence be that motivation.  While we improve ourselves, we're not just improving ourselves: We're improving everybody around us.

Define yourself.  Realize your Sphere of Influence.  Make the change!

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