I often refer to Stephen Covey’s Circle of Influence and Concern when faced with challenges. Likewise, I often encourage others to take a similar approach when their concerns seem to lie outside both the circle of control — the small inner circle — and the circle of influence — the slightly larger inner circle. Let me explain…
Circle of Control: This is the zone where you have direct control over both the inputs and outputs of a situation. An easy example of this is your personal attitude. You have absolute full control over the way you conduct yourself- No one else controls that but you.
Circle of Influence: This zone extends your direct control, although there are things you can do to shape the outputs. An example of this could be coaching someone to do a certain task. While you cannot control the output, although many managers/coaches would like to think they can, all you can really do is guide, persuade, and influence those outputs.
Circle of Concern: This is the biggest zone, the ‘Can’t Control’ zone, and many times the main culprit of distress and problems. The circle of concern can be any crazy ass thing you can think of. Crime rates, gas prices, that co-worker with the annoying laugh, the weather…….the list goes on and on.
Here’s the kicker- most people (yes, I am generalizing) spend waaaaaaaaaaayyyyyy too much time hanging out in the ‘can’t control’ zone (circle of concern). Why? I’m not entirely certain, but here’s my hypothesis: Because it’s easy, and we like drama.
It takes very little effort to complain or worry about something, although it’s very time consuming, but it takes quite a bit of effort to actually make changes in the two other zones- Control and Influence. Regardless of what I say here, I’m not blind to the fact that the circle of concern will remain a dominant force in most of our lives. I get it, but I don’t have to succumb to it.
TAKE ACTION: Next time you are faced with distress, a challenging situation, or high gas prices, remember the 3 circles and ask yourself this: Is this situation within my control or influence? Even when the answer is no, there is actually still a yes- Your attitude and decisions. Your attitude and decisions are ALWAYS within your control.