With everything that is going on in the world at the moment, it is very easy to become overwhelmed and feel like things are out of control either in your professional or personal life. However, as a leader, HR professional or a business owner, now more than ever, you have to keep focused on what is important in order to get through this challenging time. One simple way to get clarity and to reduce feeling overwhelmed is to focus on what you can control and can influence. In Stephen Covey’s book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (1989), he speaks about the circle of control, circle of influence and circle of concern. These three circles will help you to differentiate what is most important for you now.
Stephen Covey’s Three Circles
Circle of Control
The circle of control is areas that you have complete power over. It is your choices, your decisions, your actions and your attitude. How you do things and what you do is 100% in your circle of control. By focusing your energy and efforts in this circle, it will have the biggest impact on your life. What areas of your life could you put more focus on right now to bring about some positive changes?
Circle of Influence
The circle of influence is where you can potentially influence others by your actions or your words. However, these things are not fully within your control and you cannot control the outcome. As a leader, influencing skills are part of the role, however don’t get caught in the trap of putting too much energy into trying to change another person as it will ultimately wear you down.
Circle of Concern
The Circle of concern is everything that worries you and plays on your mind. However, you might not have much control or influence over these things. One quick exercise to help you eliminate this category would be to make a list of all your concerns. Review the list and determine if you can control or influence it?
- If Yes – move it into the circle of influence or circle of control.
- If No – let it go!
One last reflective question to consider: where are you currently spending the majority of your time? In the circle of concern, circle of influence or circle of control?
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