Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Quadrants

The idea of the four quadrants is a very interesting idea to help me put my priorities in line.

The basic idea goes that there are four different quadrants.  These activities are divided into importance and urgency.  Quadrant I is both urgent and important.  These are those activities that require our immediate attention.  Quadrant II contains activities that are important, but not urgent.  This contains activities such as working out or eating right.  Those are both very important activities, but they are not urgent.  Quadrant III is non-important, but urgent.  This could be something like a phone call that you suddenly receive.  Finally, Quadrant IV is both non-important and non-urgent.  This is most pleasurable activities.

The main problem most people (including myself) struggle with is letting Quadrant I or IV overtake their lives.  People who lose themselves to Quadrant I live a life of constantly on the go.  They are stressed out a lot.  People totally in Quadrant IV are often lazy, preferring to put off important activities for those that are fun.  I find myself most often staying in Quadrant I.  I put off other pleasurable things or more important, but not as urgent tasks.  The best place for me to be is in Quadrant II.  Activities in that Quadrant lead to a more fulfilled life.  Quadrant II tasks are more long-term based.  If I focus on those tasks, I will live a much happier life in the long run.

Circle of Influence

The whole idea of the circle of influence is another concept that very much intrigues me.  The general ideas is that there is a large circle called the circle of concern.  Within this circle is a smaller circle, called the circle of influence.  The circle of concern contains all that you are concerned about; your job, what you will eat, relationships, etc.  The circle of influence contains those concerns which you can actually affect or control.  This creates a ring of things that are in your circle of concern, but not within your circle of influence.  Anything that lies in this ring is something that you are concerned about, but cannot control.

Too often we focus on things in our ring.  This generates a negative attitude.  We are constantly griping or dismayed over things which we can do absolutely nothing about.  Meanwhile, those areas of our life where we can actually make a change (our circle of influence) go neglected.  This shrinks our circle of influence and sends us in an overall negative direction.  Personally, I find myself focusing on this area far too often.

On the other hand, we can be positive and focus on our circle of influence.  Focusing on this area gives a person a positive attitude as they do not worry about those factors they have no control over.  Instead, they focus all their energy on areas they can influence.  In doing this, they create a positive emotional state as they see their circle of influence grow.  I have seen this happen in my own life.  I sometimes get in a mood where all I want to do is work on areas or projects that I can control.  I find that I work more efficiently and have a generally more positive outlook when I focus only on these things and not on factors beyond my control.  This is a concept I will constantly remind myself of in those times when it seems like I have too much to do.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Hello to all my followers!  This is my first time blogging, so please bear with me as the posts come in sporadically.  I am looking forward to starting this blog, specifically for my conducting class.  The first couple of posts will be related to a book I am currently reading: The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, by Stephen Covey.

I have to admit, when I first picked up this book, I was not looking forward to reading it.  At a glance it seemed like a typical motivational book that I would probably find dull and uninspiring.  As I read through the chapters though, it started to come to life to me.  Certain ideas Mr. Covey presented made great sense, and actually stuck with me.

One of these first ideas is the concept of P/PC.  "P" stands for "Product," and "PC" for "Production Capability."  Mr. Covey uses the story of the goose that laid golden eggs to explain the concept.  In essence, P is what most people go after in life.  Everyone wants the product; more money, a clean house, or even simply the front lawn to be cut clean.  However, what most people do not consider is the PC.  In the story of the goose that laid golden eggs, the farmer wants more golden eggs from the goose so badly that he chops off the goose's head in order to look inside and get golden eggs.  Sadly, after killing the goose the farmer discovers there are no golden eggs inside the goose.  This is what everyone does so often.  We want to have a good P, but we neglect our PC.  As we do this, we inadvertently kill the PC, and with it the P.

I see this happen in my own life.  For example, I consistently want to play harder piano pieces.  However, in order to do this, I must practice consistently and with a purpose.  The practice would be the PC in this situation.  I find myself all too often falling into the trap of simply choosing to do something else rather than practice.  In this way, I am killing my PC.  Along with that, I am killing my P: a harder piano piece.

So what is the overall lesson we should learn from this concept?  Take care of your PC.  Whatever that may be, if you want a better Product, you must care for and nurture your production capability.  Not only will you achieve your product, but you will go above and beyond that which you seek.