Circle of Concern, Circle of Influence

We've discussed Stephen Covey's work before.  Remember the emotional bank accounts?  Today, we'll look at another one of his models that is helpful in prioritizing big to-do lists for work and life.

May I introduce his Circles model?  Covey's Circles model, this is a fabulous blog reader.  Fabulous blog reader, this is Covey's Circles Model.  

Stephen Covey Circle Model

Basically, the model goes like this:  We all have things, topics, challenges or issues in life that affect us.  If I made a list of those, it might look something like this for me:

Items that are on my mind:

  • Parenting Lil O
  • Connecting with my college students
  • Grading the giant stack of papers in front of me
  • Marketing our condo in Colorado
  • Fall
  • My life tune-up (if you missed that post, read here)
  • My cousin's documentary release this weekend
  • My grandfather's health
  • Growing Upcycled Education

However, if we use Covey's Circles model,  I would realize that I only have influence over a portion of those items.  Can I really control how the documentary release goes this weekend?  Can I tell Mother Nature to speed up fall?  Sure, I can send good healing vibes to my grandfather, but can a "cure" him and his ailments?

No, I cannot.  

But, I can be "concerned," and thus, all of those items would go in my "Circle of Concern."  I am concerned about them, but I am not influential.  According to my interpretation of Covey, it is a passive stance spending time being concerned.  Why not be active and influential with the items that you can have some effect on right now?

My "Circle of Influence" is just that.  It is those items that I can directly affect today.  It is a powerful, proactive stance.  Today, I do have influence over how I treat and interact with Lil O.  I have influence today and can grade all those papers in front of me (perhaps, I'll grade 3-4 a day so it isn't overwhelming).  I have influence today over how I market our condo and need to come up with a marketing plan like I did last fall, so we secure many ski rentals.

Do you see the difference?  Sit around and think (and often times worry) about an item (that's your Circle of Concern).  Or take charge now and be influential.  Your Circle of Influence.

Look at the items on your mind.  Which circle do they fit in?  

All the best,