“I start by drawing a circle around myself to make sure everything inside that circle is working well. Am I meeting my fitness goals, have I got my alcohol intake right, have I got my work-life balance about right. Once I feel that circle is fine I widen the circle to include family and friends and do everything I can to help them and make a difference there too.” Sir Richard Branson
Too often the inclination in our society is for people to be separated from each other, to be cut off from the great mass of humanity, and in doing so we become dehumanized a little bit more with each step.
But, I’ve learned from my experiences that helping others is almost impossible to achieve if you are going through turbulence in your own life. So the first step of CIRCLES philosophy is to put your oxygen mask on first!
I am a true believer that before you help others, you must first help yourself. But be sure to know that as human beings we must take care to notice our tendency towards our individuality that has us mainly focused on ourselves to the exclusion of our fellow human beings. The impulse towards selfishness rather than giving, on helping ourselves rather than helping others in humanity. We must notice this; and also accept this. Once we begin accepting, it can have profound effects.
So lets no longer look at this in a negative light, rather in order to help the world in a big way, you need to increase your helping power. And for this, you have to improve yourself in the first place.
If asked … What kind of person do you want to become? I am sure your answer would be to ultimately to make an impact on the lives of others. I think that is true for all of us. We want to make a difference, to be somebody, and to know our lives mean something.
This is why at H.E.L.P we have implemented the CIRCLES philosophy within our lifestyle method. First by getting our individual circle right for ourselves and then progressing to widen our circles to each other, supporting and encouraging one another. Our circles then begin to overlap with other circles, creating a like-minded community unifying our values and upholding integrity resulting in a revolution of living wholeheartedly.
RICHARD BRANSON CIRCLES PHILOSOPHY
The challenges facing the world cannot be solved by individuals, governments or organisations alone. To get on top of problems, and seize opportunities, it is going to take everybody working together.
This applies particularly to those of us lucky enough to have the resources to make a big impact but applies to everyone.
The way we do it as a family and a company is to use Circles. I start by drawing a circle around myself to make sure everything inside that circle is working well. Am I meeting my fitness goals, have I got my alcohol intake right, have I got my work-life balance about right. Once I feel that circle is fine I widen the circle to include family and friends and do everything I can to help them and make a difference there too.
Once you feel that is largely achieved, widen the circle to further to incorporate your immediate neighbours and your street. Make sure you get to know your neighbours well, what their issues are and try to help them. Keep the street outside your house as clean as you’d keep the carpets inside your house. If all neighbours drew circles around themselves and their homes soon many would overlap and the elderly, the lonely, and people more generally would feel connected, loved and cared for. The same goes for our environment which is in desperate need of this attention.
At Virgin we take it a step further. At my home in the Caribbean, we’ve drawn a circle around it covering the sea, the reefs and neighbouring communities. We have set up a local Foundation that sets about protecting and helping the species in the ocean, the local community, the environment and so on. Our circle overlaps with other circles. So in the British Virgin Islands where Larry and Lucy Page have a property close to ours, his circle overlaps with ours so together we provide loans to young entrepreneurs to help them get on their feet, build businesses and so on.
Whether you have fitness goals, want to change your work-life balance or make any type of positive change in your life, draw a circle around yourself and start from there. Then expand to your family and friends, and then to your neighbours. You’ll find your own goals are more easily achieved with their help too, as your circles overlap.
These steps don’t have to be earth-shattering. For instance pick up the rubbish outside your homes and on your streets. If there is an elderly person living alone on the street visit them; arrange a Christmas hamper or birthday present. This may sound overly simplistic, but simple solutions are what lead to action. I wrote recently about 15 simple acts of kindness, from handwriting letters to introducing yourself to strangers, to create a massive groundswell of positive change.
As The B Team states, Plan A – where companies have been driven by the profit motive alone – is no longer acceptable. It’s time for Plan B. Imagine a world where the purpose of every business is to drive social, environmental and economic benefit.
Small companies – small circles. Large companies – large circles. At Virgin, our individual companies have relatively targeted circles. But the Virgin Group has been bold and drawn a circle around the globe to get out and tackle the big issues of the world.
Climate change, ocean preservation, drug reform, abolishing capital punishment, universal healthcare, LGBT rights, conflict resolution issues, to name a few! But many of these big issues wouldn’t exist if everyone in the world started off with a small circle around themselves that grew overtime so that every circle in the world ultimately overlapped.
If every person, company, shop, factory, home, college and office drew a circle around their surroundings and pledged to help those inside the circle, together we would make the world a better place.
Photos & Artwork: Emily O’Brien Photography