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2010-08-30

The importance of focusing on your "Circle of Influence"

In a blog post the very interesting Derek Sivers explains very well Stephen R. Covey's principles of "Circle of Concern" (what we care about) and "Circle of Influence" (what we can affect).


Basically it means - focus on your own life and what you can do about it (= Circle of Influence) and train yourself to release all other concerns (= Circle of Concern) from your mind.

These principles are from Covey's "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People", a book I've read twice before. Therefore I know the principle very well, but it's hard to be aware of it all the time.


This is the way Covey explains it in the book. Read the following quickly, it might remind you also what you should prioritize in your own life:


"An excellent way to become more self-aware regarding our own degree of proactivity is to look at where we focus our time and energy. We each have a wide range of concerns -- our health, our children, problems at work, the national debt, nuclear war. We could separate those from things in which we have no particular mental or emotional involvement by creating a 'Circle of Concern'.

As we look at those things within our Circle of Concern, it becomes apparent that there are some things over which we have no real control and others that we can do something about. We could identify those concerns in the latter group by circumscribing them within a smaller 'Circle of Influence'.

By determining which of these two circles is the focus of most of our time and energy, we can discover much about the degree of our proactivity.

Proactive people focus their efforts in the Circle of Influence. They work on the things they can do something about. The nature of their energy is positive, enlarging and magnifying, causing their Circle of Influence to increase.

Reactive people, on the other hand, focus their efforts in the Circle of Concern. They focus on the weakness of other people, the problems in the environment, and circumstances over which they have no control.

Their focus results in blaming and accusing attitudes, reactive language, and increased feelings of victimization. The negative energy generated by that focus, combined with neglect in areas they could do something about, causes their Circle of Influence to shrink.

As long as we are working in our Circle of Concern, we empower the things within it to control us. We aren't taking the proactive initiative necessary to effect positive change.

Though they may have to prioritize the use of their influence, proactive people have a Circle of Concern that is at least as big as their Circle of Influence, accepting the responsibility to use their influence effectively."

Wise words indeed.
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