2 Ideas That Will Really Unlock Elite Performance

Discover how the concepts of the “circle of control” and the “company of one” can empower you to achieve personal and professional success. Learn practical steps to increase your circle of control, maintain a lean business structure, and become a truly elite performer.

2 Ideas That Will Really Unlock Elite Performance

In both personal and professional realms, the concepts of the “circle of control” and the “company of one” emphasize the importance of individual agency and self-sufficiency. They create a robust framework for fostering empowerment, efficiency, and resilience.

Understanding the Circle of Control

The “circle of control” is rooted in Stoic philosophy. It advocates focusing on what we can control while letting go of what we cannot. This involves concentrating our efforts on aspects of life where we have direct influence, such as our thoughts, actions, and responses. By doing so, we reduce stress and increase our effectiveness, channeling resources into areas where we can make a real difference.

Marcus Aurelius encapsulated this philosophy: “You have power over your mind - not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.”

Research supports this approach. A study published in the Journal of Happiness Studies found that individuals who focus on their circle of control experience higher levels of life satisfaction and lower levels of anxiety and depression. This underscores the importance of perceived control in mental well-being.

Embracing the Company of One

The “company of one” is a business philosophy championed by Paul Jarvis. It advocates for a small, manageable business structure focused on sustainability, simplicity, and autonomy. Rather than pursuing constant growth, a company prioritizes efficiency, personal fulfillment, and direct customer relationships. This approach allows entrepreneurs to remain agile, make quick decisions, and maintain control over their work-life balance.

As E.F. Schumacher noted: “Small is beautiful.”

Research in the Journal of Business Venturing aligns with this philosophy. It shows that smaller businesses often outperform larger ones in innovation and market responsiveness due to their flexibility and streamlined decision-making processes.

person holding camera lens

Synergizing Control and Autonomy

Focus and Efficiency

Both the circle of control and the company of one encourage focusing on what matters most. The circle of control directs attention to areas where we can directly impact. At the same time, the company emphasizes maintaining a streamlined, efficient business that avoids unnecessary complexity or growth.

Theodore Roosevelt’s words resonate here:Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”

A paper in the Harvard Business Review supports this, discussing how focusing on high-impact activities and eliminating non-essential tasks significantly improves productivity and effectiveness.

Autonomy and Self-Sufficiency

The circle of control emphasizes taking responsibility for our actions and decisions. Similarly, a company is about being self-sufficient, making independent decisions, and not relying on external factors like a large team or extensive resources.

Peter Drucker succinctly stated:The best way to predict the future is to create it.”

Research in the Journal of Applied Psychology supports this, indicating that individuals with higher levels of autonomy in their work experience have greater job satisfaction, higher performance, and lower stress levels.

Reduced Stress and Improved Well-being

Focusing on what we can control reduces stress and increases our sense of empowerment. A company of one aligns with this by avoiding the pressures of constant scaling and managing large teams, leading to a more balanced and fulfilling work life.

Lou Holtz captured this sentiment: “It is not the load that breaks you down, it’s the way you carry it.”

A study in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology highlights that focusing on controllable aspects of work and maintaining a manageable workload are critical factors in reducing stress and preventing burnout.

Adaptability and Resilience

Both concepts promote adaptability. The circle of control helps us remain flexible and resilient in facing challenges by focusing on our responses rather than external circumstances. A company can quickly adapt to changes in the market due to its lean and flexible structure.

Albert Einstein noted: “The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.”

A Journal of Business Research study shows that businesses prioritizing adaptability and resilience are better positioned to navigate market disruptions and sustain long-term success.

Conclusion: A Mindset of Empowerment

Integrating the circle of control with the company of one creates a robust framework for personal development and business management. This synergy fosters a mindset of empowerment, efficiency, and resilience, providing a path to both personal fulfillment and professional success.

person standing on round concrete pavement

Step-by-Step Guide to Increase Your Circle of Control While Being a Company of One

1. Identify What You Can Control

Action: Make a list of aspects within your personal and professional life that you have direct control over.

Focus: Concentrate on your thoughts, actions, and responses.

2. Set Clear Boundaries

Action: Define what lies outside your circle of control and consciously decide to let go of these areas.

Focus: Avoid wasting energy on external factors you cannot influence.

3. Prioritize High-Impact Activities

Action: Identify and focus on tasks that impact your goals most.

Focus: Use the Pareto Principle (80/20 rule) to maximize your productivity.

4. Cultivate Self-Sufficiency

Action: Develop skills that enhance independence and reduce reliance on external support.

Focus: Invest in continuous learning and personal development.

Summary: Company Of One by Paul Jarvis
Discover sustainable business practices and insights from “Company of One” by Paul Jarvis. Learn to prioritize efficiency, quality, and personal fulfillment for enduring success.

5. Maintain a Lean Structure

Action: Streamline your business operations to eliminate unnecessary complexity.

Focus: Embrace simplicity and efficiency in your workflow.

6. Enhance Decision-Making Agility

Action: Foster a mindset that allows for quick and effective decision-making.

Focus: Trust your intuition and experience to guide you.

7. Manage Stress Proactively

Action: Implement stress management techniques such as mindfulness, exercise, and time management.

Focus: Prioritize mental and physical well-being to maintain high performance.

8. Adapt and Evolve

Action: Regularly assess and adapt your strategies to stay aligned with changing circumstances.

Focus: Remain flexible and open to new opportunities and challenges.

9. Seek Continuous Improvement

Action: Continuously evaluate and refine your processes and skills.

Focus: Strive for excellence in all areas of your life and work.

10. Build a Support Network

Action: Surround yourself with a network of mentors, peers, and advisors who support your goals.

Focus: Leverage their expertise and feedback to enhance your growth.

By following these steps, you can effectively increase your circle of control while embodying the principles of a company, ultimately becoming a truly elite and hyper-performer.

1. The Obstacle Is the Way” by Ryan Holiday: This book delves into Stoic philosophy and how to turn obstacles into opportunities by focusing on what you can control.

2. Company of One” by Paul Jarvis: This book explains how staying small can be beneficial and how to create a successful business without constant growth.

3. Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less” by Greg McKeown: This book teaches the importance of focusing on what truly matters and eliminating the non-essential to improve productivity and life satisfaction.


1. Cheng, Sheung-Tak. “The Influence of Personal Control on Subjective Well-Being.” Journal of Happiness Studies 7, no. 2 (2006): 183-204. Link to research

2. Nooteboom, Bart. “Innovation and Diffusion in Small Firms: Theory and Evidence.” Journal of Business Venturing 9, no. 3 (1994): 271-290. Link to research

3. Glei, Jocelyn K. “The Focused Leader.” Harvard Business Review 91, no. 12 (2013): 50-60. Link to research

4. Hackman, J. Richard, and Greg  R. Oldham. “Motivation through the design of work: Test of a theory.” Organizational Behavior and Human Performance 16, no. 2 (1976): 250-279. Link to research

5. Sonnentag, Sabine, and Michael Frese. “Stress in organizations.” Comprehensive handbook of psychology (2003): 453-491. Link to research

6. Lengnick-Hall, Cynthia A., Tammy E. Beck, and Mark L. Lengnick-Hall. “Developing a capacity for organizational resilience through strategic human resource management.” Journal of Business Research 64, no. 3 (2011): 242-253. Link to research