One of the most important steps to living a happy and fulfilling life is to understand the relationship between your sphere of control and your personal success.
You see, each one of us has our own sphere of control. Within this sphere are all the things that we have direct control over, such as whether or not you’ll watch TV tonight.
Outside of your sphere of control lie all the things that you have no direct control over, such as whether or not it will rain tomorrow.
Here’s an example that illustrates how your sphere of control relates to your success in life.
Clare and Sarah were both promising young pianists. With the encouragement of their piano teacher, they both decided to enter a national piano competition.
For Clare, there was only one acceptable outcome, and that was to win the competition. She imagined herself standing on the stage accepting the winner’s cheque and seeing her proud parents smiling in the audience.
In Clare’s mind, if she won the prestigious event then she would be a success. The only problem with this approach was that her definition of success was based on factors that were outside of her sphere of control.
Although she could control her preparation for the competition, she did not have direct control over the final result, because the winner would be chosen by a panel of judges.
Sarah however, took a very different approach. She viewed the competition as an opportunity to improve her technique and gain experience performing in public. She set herself a goal to put in a complete and total effort to prepare for the event, and decided to let the results take care of themselves. This goal was completely within Sarah’s sphere of control.
In the lead up to the event, both Clare and Sarah put in many long hours of arduous practice, and when the day of the competition finally dawned, both girls were ready to perform.
As Clare sat in the second row of the auditorium waiting to go on stage, her stomach was a tight knot of apprehension. For Clare – this was it… The next fifteen minutes would determine whether she would succeed or fail.
In an adjacent row Sarah also sat waiting to perform. While she was nervous, she also felt a quiet sense of calm and purpose. Sarah knew in her heart of hearts that she had done everything within her control to prepare for the competition and this gave her a real sense of satisfaction and peace of mind.
By the end of the evening, Clare and Sarah had both performed extremely well, however, when the Master of Ceremonies read out the names of the winners, neither of their names was on the list.
For Clare this came as a devastating shock. Based on her definition of success – she had failed. Her self esteem was shattered and from that day forward she continually questioned her ability as a pianist. A few years later, Clare gave up playing the piano entirely and turned her attention towards other pursuits in life.
For Sarah on the other hand, the results of the piano competition were not a traumatic disappointment. In preparing for the event, she had indeed improved her technique enormously. Based on her definition, the competition had been a resounding success.
In the years that followed, Sarah continued to enjoy playing the piano and eventually established a thriving business teaching young children how to play.
“Success is peace of mind, which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to do your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.” – John Wooden
The important point to take away from this story is that if you define success based on things that are outside of your sphere of control such as competition results, then you are setting yourself up for a lifetime of disappointment and failure.
However, if you learn to define success based on things that lie within your sphere of control such as your personal effort, then you can once again take charge of your own success.
This does not mean that you become complacent and just accept what life brings your way. On the contrary, it means that you set goals, go after them with all your heart, and when you have put in a complete and total effort you take pride in knowing that you really have done your best.
When you adopt this approach to achieving your goals you will maximise your results and be well on your way to creating a life filled with self-satisfaction and peace of mind.
Until next time,
Dare To Dream!