There is a circle of influence and circle of concern that can make or break your life. The concept comes from a popular book titled ‘The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People’ by Stephen Covey. To put it simply, a circle of concern is a pool of things that you are constantly worried about—finance, health, people, life—anything that concerns you is a part of your circle of concern. This is the mindset and behavior of an average human being.
On the other hand, your circle of influence is still a part of your circle of concern, but this encircles worries that you can actually solve or change. Generally speaking, these are the things that you can actually influence by your response, behavior or reaction. Most people would want to focus on a circle of influence to function better in their personal or professional lives. Well, unfortunately, most people are also stuck in the circle of concern and don’t know how to break it. Interestingly, all of us want to solve our problems rather than keep them.
So, how to break the pattern to solve the problems that we can and let go of the ones that we can’t? Are you interested in learning more about this? Well, then this article is for you!
What is a Circle of Influence?
Circle of influence refers to the area of your life where you can actually make changes. It is that circle of your life where you focus your energy to become your best version.
In the book ‘The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People,’ Stephen Covey introduced the world with the concept of a circle of influence and circle of concern. In the book, he distinguishes between the two.
The first is our circle of concern, which holds an unending list of worries ranging from the economical state of an individual or the country, global warming, national debt, society, someone’s attitude—it can be anything. The list varies from person-to-person. It comprises things that are a waste of time and energy. There is no conclusive solution for such worries. They are never-ending.
The second is the circle of influence, which is comparatively smaller than the first circle. Unlike the circle of concern, people who focus on this circle focus on problems that they can actually solve and in most cases, they do. They know how to make effective changes in their life to become their best version. Such people know that the more they focus on their circle of concern, the more they will be drained out energy. Thus, they know how and where to extend their circle of influence without letting the other circle affect their mind and body.
How to Expand One’s Circle of Influence?
You can expand your circle of influence by becoming a proactive person. Focus on things and worries that actually contribute to your growth and success. It will help you become who you want to be.
Your circle of influence and circle of control or concern is often the result of long-term habits and patterns. These behaviors also dictate whether you are a proactive person or a reactive person. Let’s learn the difference between proactive and reactive people as well, before moving forward.
Proactive people are those who spend their time within the circle of influence, that is, they focus on things and worries that actually contribute to their growth and success. They tend to solve the problems they have control over and as a result, are usually positive and successful in their personal and professional lives. These people are highly effective and influencing nature.
Reactive people, on the other hand, are more focused on the circle of concern. These people are not in touch with their circle of influence. They focus on things that they cannot control or change. Thus, this usually results in frustration, anger, disappointment, and sadness. Highly effective people stay away from reactive people because they know it affects their energy.
The first thing you should do to expand your circle of influence is to become more proactive and less reactive as a person. You have to consciously work towards becoming the person you want to instead of waiting for something to happen. This begins when you take responsibility as a person and accept the person you are before you move forward to become the person you want to be.
If you are looking to change your reactive behavior to proactive behavior, then you can begin with focusing on being than having. This will immensely change your attitude from reactive to proactive behavior.
The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People
As mentioned above, there are seven habits in Stephen Covey’s book. These habits have been described in detail below.
1. Be Proactive
This simply means to focus on your circle of influence and constantly strive to inculcate habits that make you an effective influencer. A continued practice to jump from a circle of concern and influence eventually helps people to become proactive in life.
2. Define yourself
You should begin with the end in mind. This means that one should clearly define who they are and who they want to be. Alongside this, they should also plan all the ways they would become the person they are aiming to become.
3. Set your priorities
Start your mornings by doing the most difficult or important things first.
Prioritize them and delegate less important things for the rest of the day. Tasks that are unimportant should be eliminated. This will build your mental strength and ability to solve difficult problems faster.
4. Be positive
Whether it’s personal or professional problems, relationships, or responsibilities, you shall always look at it as a winner. It should be a win-win situation in your head. Thus, the only way to win in life is to have a positive outlook. Keep doing that and no one can stop you to become proactive. When you start working in your proactive energy, you will automatically enhance that version of yourself which will choose a circle of influence over a circle of concern.
5. Be understanding
People who focus on their circle of influence learn to understand the psyche of other people. They know that no one has come with a guidebook to life. Thus, it is important to understand others and forgive them, where needed. This also helps in establishing deeper connections in both personal and professional relationships as well.
6. Synergize the environment
The best way to achieve a goal is together. Thus, it is important to keep the environment when working towards a goal. It is the best way to become successful and stay proactive. Keep your energy so clear that people cannot help be influenced by your presence in the room.
7. Sustainable lifestyle
Good habits and lifestyle can affect you in ways you cannot imagine. It’s true. When you inculcate positive habits, you start becoming a better version of yourself. Allow yourself to have good hours of sleep, exercise, choose better habits and eat healthily. Keep this habit up for 30 days and these will become a part of your natural self.
Inculcating a positive lifestyle also means letting go of the negative habits. So, when you decide to eat healthy and exercise, you must also let go of smoking, drinking, and related habits. This might seem hard at first but however difficult it seems; it is your responsibility to become the best version of yourself and live your life to the fullest.
The Idea Behind The Circle of Influence?
The main purpose or idea of studying a circle of influence is to develop a healthy and growth mindset. People who have a fixed mindset will always be in the circle of control or concern. Thus, it is important to break from the regular or known patterns and get into a whole different, better energy. This is why these 7 habits give way to a 3-level model or structure namely, Independence, Interdependence, and improvement.
Let’s study the above three in detail-
The first three habits, that are, be proactive, define yourself, and prioritize things belong to this part of the structure. These habits help you master yourself and become the greatest version of your mental, emotional and physical self, which will make you independent.
Being independent doesn’t only means that you are stable financially and living away from home. Living independently also means that you should live your best life. To reach there, the first three habits of this model will help you reach there. All you have to do is never stop challenging yourself in the quest of becoming your true self.
Once you achieve mastery of self, the next step to grow your circle of influence is to learn to work well with other people. Whether it’s a personal or professional relationship, it is quite important for everyone to know themselves, so that they can create deep connections with people around them.
This model is inclusive of the next three habits in the chart—being positive, understanding and synergizing or influencing the environment with one’s own presence.
Finally, the seventh and the last habit is all about improving oneself for the rest of your life. Continuous improvement is the way to a positive and successful life. The same can be achieved by living a sustainable and positive lifestyle, the kind that keeps you in balance.
The best way to inculcate a sustainable lifestyle is to take away the focus from everything else and put it on yourself and see the magic that happens in your life.
When you know that you deserve the best things in life, you stop at nothing. One of the best ways to inculcate these habits in your life is to know and always remember that you deserve so much more and then promise yourself to never stop at becoming your greatest version.
This is the way to keep yourself motivated in designing the life that you deserve, really. Remember, you can achieve the full potential of your life by this model. In fact, there are anecdotes across the world where people followed the seven habits and successfully designed the life of their dreams.
Circle of influence is a great tool for prioritizing your life and living by your own rules. There is a popular quote by Reinhold Niebuhr’s famous Serenity Prayer- ‘God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.’
Isn’t this quote amazing? Well, if you have decided to learn and apply the seven habits, then this quote will help you become your greatest version. Nonetheless, if you have decided to leave the circle of concern and follow the circle of influence, then no one can stop you. Remember, you deserve to live your best life and to live like that, you should become your greatest version.
Namrata Singh is a dentist turned writer and clinical researcher. Eager to learn about anything and everything, she is what you would call a jack of all trades and master of none. With a zeal for reading novels, books and anything she could get her hands on ever since she was little, she embarked into a writing career purely out of luck. After indulging in a freelancing career for nearly two years, she can now write on anything - from dentistry to decor, travel to technology, medicine to management - but psychology remains her first love. Having dealt with mental health issues in the past, she hopes to raise awareness for the same and help people with her work in association with The MindFool team