TL;DR — Let’s focus on our Circle of Influence, and not what we can’t control.
When the world is grappling with the coronavirus and Singapore’s economy faces an uncertain future, what hope is there for our livelihood?
This week, as I was reading a book by Stephen Covey called The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families, he introduced a wonderful concept called the Circle of Concern vs Circle of Influence.
Why you should stop obsessing over things you can’t control
Reactive people focus their efforts in the Circle of Concern — things over which they have little or no control — like what other people think of them, terrorism, or the weather.
The energy focused on the Circle of Concern is negative, and when you combine this negative energy with neglecting the Circle of Influence, your Circle of Influence gets smaller.
Focus on what you can do, not what you can’t (via)
How to grow your Circle of Influence
Proactive people focus their efforts on their Circle of Influence. They work on the things they can do something about — health, mindset, or their skills. As a result, their Circle of Influence grows.
While we are extremely concerned about our jobs, the number of Covid-19 cases in Singapore and the craziness happening around the world, I thought it would be a welcome respite to look at growing our Circle of Influence in this article, to focus on what we can do right now in our lives.
Preparing for uncertainty
Perhaps due to our cautious nature, not every Singaporean welcomes change and uncertainty. We tend to avoid or postpone change if we can, because change is uncomfortable, inconvenient and scary.
How can we prepare for uncertainty if we have been avoiding it?
Watch this video:
Simon Sinek says, “Your body responds to nerves and excitement the same way. But you can learn to interpret it differently. Train your mind to perform under pressure by shifting your narrative.”.
Shifting your narrative
What on earth does that mean?
“You don’t have to be the person you think you are. Or to put it two other ways – you are allowed to change the narrative of your life. Imagine the person you would like to be and start acting as if you were that person.”
– Richard Koch
You could shift your narrative based on what role in life you wish to improve. You may wish to be a better son, daughter, husband, wife, father, mother, friend, colleague, neighbour, etc.
How can I expand my Circle of Influence when it comes to jobs?
Back to our original question, knowing what we know now about expanding our Circle of Influence, how can we make ourselves more attractive as employees or jobseekers for our long-term livelihoods?
I had the rare opportunity to chat with Elizabeth Ng, a headhunter-turned-entrepreneur. She has been through several job changes from a personal administrator, then doing HR and accounts, headhunting, project management and now a wellness entrepreneur.
Being of a ‘garang’ (fearless) nature, Elizabeth was always asking her bosses for jobs that she had never done before, even if she didn’t know how to do it. She would then study and figure out how to do her new job.
She was headhunted several times to join different non-profit organisations and associations, and she also headhunted talents to fill the roles that her clients were hiring for.
We discussed what Singaporeans could do to be more employable. These are the 7 skills she shared that we can improve as we expand our Circle of Influence in terms of our livelihoods.
1. Soft skills
“Headhunters look at the whole package, not just one skill. We assess if the candidate has balancedness and roundedness. Is he positive? Is he responsible? Does he have integrity and character? Is he conscientious? These are some traits we look for in a good team player.”
“The Singaporean jobseeker already has an edge as a Singaporean. With other factors like qualifications being equal, it is the intrinsic part like EQ that makes a difference.”
“We must be open to being taught. Teachability is a skill that allows us to receive guidance to improve. However, for some people I’ve worked with, no matter what I say to them, they will not learn. This will cause a problem for them.”
3. Staying relevant
What we learned years ago may be obsolete today.
“The world has changed. We need to stay relevant. The government is doing a good job giving Singaporeans a lot of help for training. But how many are bothering to learn?”
“At the same time, employers also need to send workers for training. I understand it can be hard to release workers for shift, hence having government support for absentee payroll helps.”
4. Overseas experience
“If we can, having some form of overseas experience helps. Having an open mind to try new strategies, hone our cultural intelligence and gain a diversity of experiences makes our life richer.”
“We also need to be an international nation. For example, if we don’t have foreigners but only Singaporeans doing research here, can we be as competitive as others who attract talent from all over the world?”
5. Being searchable
“Being searchable and being part of networks helps you. When there is a job opening, usually hirers will search within their known network. Already being part of the right network increases your chances of getting and staying in a job. People will refer you. That’s how I also got headhunted myself several times.”
“If you’re searchable, you may avoid the hassle of finding a job through the traditional recruitment route. Being headhunted reduces your time spent in looking for a job.”
“Humans are spiritual and emotional beings. When we do something that is not aligned with our spirit, we will face blockages and bondages that hold our potential back. Finding your alignment is important so you know what works for you.”
When you are positive, you will think of what you can do even if you’re in a bad situation, not obsess over what you can’t do or can’t control. You are discovering choices, options that you can act on, and empowering yourself to figure things out.
If you are not yet ready to embark on your journey to expand your Circle of Influence, I hope the quote below encourages you.
Whatever challenges, problems, setbacks you’re facing — this too, shall pass.