CONCERN vs INFLUENCE
In the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, the late Stephen Covey
presents a very valid concept referring to the effects of focusing
on our Circle of Influence vs our Circle of Concern.
That one decision can determine our level of success
and a sense of accomplishment in our lives.
Circle of Concern:
These are the things in our life we feel deeply about, they touch us, sometimes pains us when we see it happening around us; but we don’t have much, if any, influence on the outcome or have any say in how it is handled. Sometimes the issues are very serious ones; children literally starving to death in faraway countries, villages being destroyed in war and the citizens fleeing in the middle of the night to save their lives and that of their children. Very, very, sad and serious issues; but what can we really personally do to change their fate?
Decisions being made by the government or your boss not performing the way you believe they should. Again, no real say in what and how things get done. On a much lighter note, what so and so posted to Facebook, Twitter and/or Instagram. These are all issues that are in your Circle of Concern. They concern you, sometimes they worry you, even anger you, but you don’t have the power or responsibility to bring any changes. This is not a circle you want to spend most of your time in. It will only upset you, frustrate you and make you feel powerless. Your stress levels and blood pressure go through the roof, while your Facebook friends continue to post whatever it is they choose to.
Circle of Influence:
Includes everything that is in your control, that you have influence on, that you can personally make a difference in. The food choices you make at dinner time is in your Circle of Influence. Taking responsibility for your life, keeping your commitments and your promises to yourself and others are in your Circle of Influence.
List all of the things that worry you, frustrate you, make you angry, sad, or happy, get you excited or eager. After each of these items, identify which ones are in your Circle of Influence and which ones are in your Circle of Concern? If you don’t know where each item belongs, ask yourself this question. Is there anything I can do about this that will bring a change? If the answer is yes, then it belongs in your Circle of Influence. If the answer is no, then it goes in your Circle of Concern.
Be careful not to place everything in your Circle of Concern. Saving the environment is a huge undertaking and no matter how much you want to save the planet, you are unable to bring a change by yourself. The big picture of saving the planet is in your Circle of Concern, however there are some things you can do, like recycling, using reusable bags, taking a glass or mug to work, instead of using plastic cups each time. Those small efforts are in your Circle of Influence, and that’s how you contribute to the bigger picture.
If you’re having a tough time living mostly in your Circle of Influence, could it be that there’s some fear there? What are you afraid to confront? If things are in your control, are you afraid you will make the wrong decisions and then there’s no one else to blame but yourself? Is taking responsibility for what’s going on in your life too scary to deal with?
You should aim to increase your Circle of Influence while decreasing your Circle of Concern. When you focus on your Circle of Concern, nothing gets done. Your stress levels and feelings of helplessness rise. However, when you focus on your Circle of Influence, you spend time on things in which you can actually make a difference. This will give you the strength and empowerment to be proactive, effective, and efficient. Consequently, you will feel accomplished and successful. Ultimately, focusing on your Circle of Influence helps you live an intentional life of purpose.
Choose your focus. Choose your life.