Circle of influence and circle of concern

Circle of influence and concernWhat can you change? What can’t you change?

Stephen Covey describes the habit of being proactive with what he calls the circle of concern and the circle of influence.

Your life doesn’t just “happen.” Whether you know it or not, it is carefully designed by you. The choices, after all, are yours. You choose happiness. You choose sadness.You choose ambivalence. You choose success. You choose failure. You choose courage. You choose fear. Just remember that every moment, every situation, provides a new choice. And in doing so, it gives you a perfect opportunity to do things differently to produce more positive results.

Instead of reacting to or worrying about conditions over which they have little or no control, proactive people focus their time and energy on things they can control. The problems, challenges, and opportunities we face fall into two areas–Circle of Concern and Circle of Influence.

The circle of concern:

represents the degree of focus we spend dealing with our concerns such as our health, family and work related problems.  The more time and energy people spend brooding or worrying about pressures over which they have no control, or complaining about barriers that they perceive they cannot overcome, then the more stressed and reactive they become

The circle of influence:

represents the degree of focus we place on doing things to influence some of our concerns. The more people focus on the things they can do something about and work on them, the more ‘pro-active’ and less stressed they become.  As they do this, they increase their circle of influence.

Proactive people focus their efforts on their Circle of Influence. They work on the things they can do something about: health, children, problems at work. Reactive people focus their efforts in the Circle of Concern–things over which they have little or no control: the national debt, terrorism, the weather. Gaining an awareness of the areas in which we expend our energies in is a giant step in becoming proactive.

Circle of Concern and Circle of Influence; the link is a practical exercise that individuals can work through in a coaching context.