By: Scott Armstrong
If you’re like me, life has recently seemed out of control. A global pandemic will do that to you. Our work, our schools, and even our family has begun to truly function differently. Some of those changes have been great, but in moments of honesty we’d have to divulge that adversity is taking its toll on us.
Literally millions of articles have been written in the past year on how to cope and adapt, so my contribution will be brief. One simple thing that is starting to help our foursome lately is the “Me Circle.”
I originally came across the Me Circle as coaches and athletic trainers were equipping athletes to focus and become the best at their sport (see The Confident Athlete by Tami Matheny, for example). The exercise is this: Draw a circle on a piece of paper. Inside the circle, write everything in your sport you can control 100%. The list may initially be short. Then, outside the circle, write things you cannot control 100%. That list should probably be longer, if you’re honest.
Now make sure you dedicate the majority of your time on staying in your Me Circle. For an athlete, this could be implemented before, during, or even after practice, training, or a game. Staying focused on the “controllables” has a strong correlation to increased confidence. Things such as effort, focus, and attitude are within your control, so they are inside your circle. Things such as coaches and administrative decisions, winning, scoring, and teammates are not 100% within your control so they are outside your circle. When you focus on things within your Me Circle you are more likely to play and work healthily and see positive results.
The implications of the Me Circle are enormous even outside of sports.
The apostle Paul knew that Christians were in a constant battle. He probably saw many who were discouraged and even literally beaten down at the hands of persecution. But he tells the Ephesians that their struggle “is not against flesh and blood, but against the…spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (6:12). It’s almost as if he is telling them to get their eyes off of circumstances and earthly conflict and focus on what they can 100% influence – amazingly enough, the spiritual. His recommendation of what they can 100% do, regardless of the storms around them?
- “Be strong in the Lord” (6:10)
- “Put on the full armor of God” (6:11, 13)
- “Stand firm,” “stand your ground” (6:11, 13, 14)
- “Be alert” (6:18)
- “Pray on all occasions,” “keep on praying” (6:18)
Forget a tennis match or a soccer practice. Through the Spirit, when all of hell is coming after us, there are still plenty of things we can do to maintain our focus and never waver!
When seen through the lens of the Bible, the Me Circle is where God teaches us to completely rely on Him and to tackle only the issues that we can control with Him.
Embroiled in conflict with a neighbor, coworker, or family member? Pray diligently, and focus primarily (almost exclusively at first) on what you can 100% control. Don’t lose sleep over the other person.
Has the global pandemic changed almost everything around you? There’s no way to dictate when vaccines will arrive, schools will open, or you’ll be able to move about freely. But by maintaining your focus, a good attitude, and your spiritual, physical, and emotional health, the stuff outside the circle will become more manageable.
The Me Circle is almost so basic that it’s embarrassing, but it really does produce fruit.