Tuesday, March 5, 2013


In his book Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Steven R. Covey speaks about circles. Specifically, he talks about Circles of Concern, which include all the things that we worry about, and Circles of Influence, which include all the things that we can affect.

In my mind, there is a third kind of circle. This is the Circle of Things That Matter. This is a much smaller circle than the other two. Part of acquiring wisdom is learning to shrink the other two circles so they approach this one in size.

Actually, my life is full of a fourth kind of circle, multiple instances of it. These are Circles of People That Matter. In my life, most of these are BIG circles. The smallest and tightest of these circles includes used to include just my wife and our natural children. What's funny about this circle, called "family," is that we keep widening it and adding other people to it — not just children-in-law and grandchildren, but others whom we come to love so much that they become part of our family.

It's fun at Christmas time, to host an open house for the people in all of these different circles, then to sit back and observe the collisions and the intersections between the circles. Some sparkling gems are found in those intersections.

For example, my circle of former mathematics students consists of roughly 200 people. My circle of LDS young single adults currently living in our town or nearby is of about the same size. I was delighted to find three of my former math students in this YSA circle. I'm sure it doesn't mean as much to them as it does to me, and I try desperately not to make an outward show of things, but I get all, um, gleeful inside every time I see one of them.

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