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  • Writer's pictureNatalie Schiebener

Powerful Questions Podcast: Are you focusing on your circle of influence?

The concept of circle of influence was introduced by Stephen Covey. When I first learned this concept, I was amazed. It is so simple but is also very powerful and can help you focus on the things that really matter to you. Let me explain the idea to you.

Imagine a circle that has 3 layers:

The inner part is “Circle of control”. This is the area in your life where you have 100% control of what is happening. For example, you can decide to take part in certain events. You can control what breakfast you have in the morning.

The middle part is “Circle of influence”. This is the part where you have some influence on the events, even though you don’t have 100% control of everything. For example, you can influence what kind of job you are working in – you cannot control it 100% because also the employers get to choose whether they hire you, but you can strongly influence what job you do in the end by getting relevant skills and experience, applying for jobs and preparing to the interviews.

The external part is “Circle of interest”. This part is everything in the world that interests you, but you have no influence over. For example, for me it could be this year’s election in the US – I do not live in the US and cannot influence the election, but I might be interested in the outcome. Most of what we read on the news, observing lives of celebrities is our circle of interest, but not our circle of influence.

These are the 3 circles. And the purpose of understanding these 3 circles is to see where you focus most of your time, attention and energy. Which of these circles do you spend most time in? Just give an answer to yourself, what is your perception right now.

So what happens if you focus most of your time in your circle of interest?

Well, nothing. Since you cannot influence things in your circle of interest, you spend time finding out things that do not necessarily bring you anywhere. There will be no productive outcome relevant for your life out of the time spent in the circle of interest.

And on the contrary, if you focus on your circle of influence, you will see visible outcomes in your life. One of the outcomes will be that your circle of influence will begin to grow. If you start exercising your influence more, become proactive, address the issues in the world that bother you, your circle of influence will grow. And this way, you will create real added value for your life and for the life of people around you.

Sometimes you can just turn your topics of interest into your topics of influence. For example, you are really concerned about the global warming, you read the news and you are really scared about how life will be on this planet for your kinds and grandkids (and maybe even for you). Yes, it’s a huge problem, and you are probably not a climate scientist. But, what you can always do, is start with yourself. Turn this topic of interest into something you can influence. Change your eating habits, your consumer behavior. Go to protests, become an activist. Join the local green party. Start sorting trash.

As they say, if you want to change the world, start with yourself. There are often numerous ways you can start contributing yourself to the things that matter to you, even if they seem really big.

Added benefit of this approach: instead of being anxious about something that happens without you being able to influence it, you will feel like you can impact something and contribute to the world in a positive way.

Start with yourself, and maybe change the world.

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