Circle of Influence, Circle of Concern
There’s a diagram in Steven Covey’s book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People that I always try to keep in mind. It looks like this:
The circles represent the two areas where you can focus your time and energy. The vast majority of people focus too much time and energy outside of their Circle of Influence, in their Circle of Concern. Such people typically worry about things they cannot control, such as the weather next weekend or war in the Middle East. Preoccupying yourself with issues like that is a huge waste of time and energy. Covey notes that highly effective people think and act primarily within their Circle of Influence. They forget about the things over which they have no control, preferring to focus their time and energy on issues where they can actually make a difference. By doing this, they gradually expand their Circle of Influence as they earn more power and respect. Where do you spend most of your time and energy?
If all you do is sit at home each evening, shaking your head as you watch crime reports on the local news, wondering what the world is coming to, you’re way out in your Circle of Concern. If you were working within your Circle of Influence, you’d be busy attending community action meetings, or volunteering to coach youth sports, providing leadership and guidance to build a better future for your community. I used to worry a lot about public speaking, afraid I’d stumble over my words or just generally sound like a fool whenever I’d address a group of people. I’d get worked up at even the thought of raising my hand at a conference; my heart would be pounding and I’d have to try convince myself that I wasn’t about to ask a stupid question. I was very much out there in my Circle of Concern. Eventually, I decided to step back into my Circle of Influence, which I did by joining Toastmasters five months ago. Now I’m able to speak and communicate comfortably in...
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