December 19, 2023 in Effectiveness, Productivity

Our world today is filled with uncertainties and problems that often overwhelm us. It is easy to feel lost with many issues needing our attention. However, renowned author Steven Covey, known for his work “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” offers a way to navigate these challenges. His concepts of the Circle of Influence and the Circle of Concern are a great way to re-prioritize where we focus our energy. These two paradigms help you categorize issues based on your ability to influence them. This method promotes proactive behavior, reduces stress, and aids in effective problem-solving.

Understanding the Circle of Concern

The Circle of Concern, defined by Covey, is a wide-ranging sphere that includes all the issues an individual cares about but may not have direct control over. These concerns could be as broad as global issues like climate change, political instability, or the state of the economy. They could also be more personal matters, such as the health of a loved one, a spouse’s job security, or the quality of education at your child’s school. Also, the 24 hours of news coverage of events worldwide that we have no control over is the greatest threat in our Circle Of Concern. 

Although legitimate and often significant, these concerns may lead to feelings of powerlessness and frustration if too much energy is spent worrying about them. This is because there is a limited ability to directly effect change on these issues. The Circle of Concern often contains aspects we care deeply about but have little or no control over.

The Circle of Influence Defined

In contrast to the Circle of Concern, the Circle of Influence includes matters that you can directly impact or change. These usually encompass areas such as personal health, career progression, relationships, and personal finances. Individuals can direct their efforts toward actions that lead to tangible results by focusing more on the Circle of Influence.

The Circle of Influence acts as an empowering tool. Concentrating on this circle can increase your influence and often expand the size of your Circle of Influence in the process. It encourages proactive behavior, making individuals feel more in control of their lives and less overwhelmed by the uncontrollable aspects of the Circle of Concern.

The Interplay Between the Circles

Understanding the distinction between these two circles is crucial. By focusing our energy and attention on the Circle of Influence, we can become more proactive, take initiative, and create positive changes. This approach helps reduce time wasted worrying about the uncontrollable aspects within the Circle of Concern.

Interestingly, as one’s Circle of Influence expands through continuous proactive behavior, it often begins to encompass more of the issues that were once only in the Circle of Concern. This expansion fosters a sense of control and effectiveness, making us feel less overwhelmed and more capable of dealing with our challenges.

Final Thoughts

Steven Covey’s concepts of the Circle of Influence and Circle of Concern are more than just theoretical constructs. They offer a practical, applicable framework for managing concerns and focusing on proactive behavior. By consciously directing our efforts towards areas where we have the power to effect change, we can increase our effectiveness, reduce feelings of powerlessness, and lead more fulfilling, balanced lives.

Covey’s circles are about effectiveness and achieving peace of mind in a complex and often chaotic world. Comment below or reach out to me if you’d like to chat about effectiveness and productivity.

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Todd Allan

About the author 

Todd Allan

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