I first read about this great little tool in Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. It is something you can apply whenever you’re feeling under pressure or stressed.
It goes like this.
Imagine yourself at the centre point of a circle. Everything that worries you, concerns you, or stresses you out is somewhere within that circle.
The work to do, the bill to paid, the wart to be checked by a doctor, climate change, the political direction of your government… All of it. It sits somewhere within your Circle of Concern.
From your point at the circle’s centre, you see it all.
Now imagine a second circle appearing around you; with you at its centre. The circle represents all that you influence, all that you control. It is your Circle of Influence. At first glance this second circle appears to be smaller than the first. Your influence or control over the world doesn’t seem to reach all of the things that concern you.
Not to worry, that’s normal for everyone. There isn’t an all powerful human in control of the world around them. You are in the same boat as everyone else.
Extend Your Influence
There are those who seem to have more control and influence than others.
I’m sure you can think of a few. I’m also sure that you’re smart enough to know that they’re not all powerful; that they still operate within limits just like you and me. So what makes them different?
They think of their Circle of Influence in another way.
Rather than just a small circle that doesn’t go beyond their arm’s reach, they see a circle of influence that they control.
They actively look for means and ways of extending their influence upon the world. They are not passengers in their life, but the drivers of it. They look to extend their Circle of Influence.
Essentially, when faced with a challenge, difficulty or issue that falls within their circle of concern, their habit, their norm, is to figure out what to do about it.
They don’t let it sit and consume them from afar.
This could mean doing something about it themselves; delegating someone else to deal with it; or even deciding that the issue is not worthy of attention compared to the things that are important in their life.
In all cases, they are in control. They push the limits of their circle of influence.
They figure out what they can do to have an impact on what concerns them.
Nothing stops you from thinking the same way. It’s just matter of making it your norm, one of your daily habits or routines.
How do you do that?
Just start today.
The Counter Argument
You may tell me that compared to others in the world your circle of influence won’t have any impact. There are those who already have all the power.
You’re right. Some people start with more. They already have significant influence. This is true. No one will convince you otherwise because you’re not wrong.
It is just that everyone starts from somewhere. They’ve already begun.
You can start today – see Mastering Change
Or not, I mean it’s your life after all. I’m just writing about a tip I find useful. I’m telling you because you might find it useful too. If you don’t, that’s cool. If you don’t want to try it, that’s cool too. You’re a free person who is smart enough to know what’s best for you.
- Your Circle of Concern contains everything that impacts upon you
- Your Circle of Influence contains everything you can have an impact upon
- You can extend your Circle of Influence by actively identifying what is in your control and how it can be used to change the world around you
- You’ll be surprised by how much influence you already have and how you can bring it bear once you start thinking in this way