The late Stephen Covey asks us: What is your center? This is a super profound concept, and something I’ve thought about for decades since I read it in his book.
He asks if your center is your family, your marriage, your job, your church, your status, your job, etc. And then, he goes on to ask, what will happen if/when you lose those things?
Imagine someone who’s family is their absolute center… and then they get a divorce and their kids hate them (or go down very difficult paths and lose the relationship). Then what? What does it mean when your center goes away?
What is your center?
Brian Schnabel writes that centers are “those things that we derive our self-worth and identity from.” He says “[Covey] points out that many times our centers may change depending upon outside influences; leaving many people with a feeling of low self-worth and little to know personal identity.”
Oh. Well that sucks.
Covey is not saying you shouldn’t love your family, or have relationships with your family, or make them a big part of your life. What, then, is he saying?
He’s saying that your center should be but he is saying that your center has to be principle-focused. Look at this, on or around page 125:
Many JibberJobber users who feel devastated when losing their job have had their job, status, title, etc. as their center. And then it went away, and your self-worth evaporated. You questioned the very core of who you are and whether you have anything to offer to anyone. You feel lost. Your center was not stable, and the results were instability in every aspect of your life. Same thing if your center is any of the spokes in the image above.
If you are feeling lost and without any stability in your life, go to the library and read Chapter 2 of 7 Habits. Take notes and ponder what you are reading. Define what your center is, and why it is the right center. Define why this center is better, more stable, and different than what you have had in the past, and how that will help you in the future.
This might be one of the most important career management tactics that you spend time on, ever.
What is YOUR center?
(updated thoughts March 2022)
Recently the world has been talking about World War III. Putin has attacked Ukraine and… well, read the news or Twitter or wherever to try to find out what’s going on.
I have seen memes from millennials talk about having lived through The (COVID) Pandemic, a massive Recession, and now maybe World War III, as long as a few other things.
What is your center? Is it faith and trust in a strong and thriving financial institution? Bitcoin and the others would argue you shouldn’t have faith or trust in what may not be a strong or thriving financial institution.
What is your center? Is it faith and trust in the medical community, how the mainstream media has communicated to the people (I’m not picking any sides but it’s pretty easy to find lots of contradicting news, statistics, etc.), the government at any level and the policies they have come up with (or not come up with), or how people have acted?
What is your center? Is it in your country’s military institution, or assuming that certain world leaders are sane enough, or have enough integrity, to provide us a thriving and peaceful existence?
If any of those are your center you’ll find it difficult to make sense of what’s happening. What is at your center impacts everything else. Having a center of something that is whimsical, shifting, unreliable, or wrong can be seriously jarring.
It’s okay to figure out what your center is. I invite you to read what Stephen Covey had to say about it, and rethink what should be at your center.