Circle of Influence, Circle of Concern

27 Jan

Circle of Concern:  all things that affect my situation.

Circle of Influence:  things I can affect (not necessarily control, but affect.)images

Gap between circles:  things I must either make an effort to affect, or accept them.

This is pretty simple on the surface, lets dig a little.

Circle of Concern – all things that affect my situation. I travel for my job.  Airlines fly where they want, when they want, at a price they set.  Not all hotel rooms have a coffee maker, free WIIFI or a fresh scent, and the insides of rental car windows are seldom clean!!  All of these affect me.

Circle of Influence – what I can do.  I make suggestions and respond to surveys I think will help.  Mostly, I prudently assess my flight options, read the fine print about hotel amenities, bring air freshener and pack Kleenex to wipe the inside of the windows.

The Gap – I often need to be “accepting”.  When I enter the airport, I accept the fact that I’m in control of very little, I anticipate delays and craziness associated with human behavior.  If there is a major problem I go back to my circle of influence – I use all the knowledge and influence I have to create the best outcome that I can.  (Not getting frustrated or loosing control is a key option that I need to utilize. My brain is more creative and efficient when I’m not stressed.  If you need a refresher about your brain and stress revisit Feb. 13 blog  http://www.youhavechoice.net/?p=198 )

Another example, maybe closer to home for you.

  •  “I hate my job!  My boss is… this department is… the culture here is!” (Concerns)
  • My response “Quit.”  (Exerting Influence)
  • “What?  I can’t quit.” (Fear, not accepting your range of choices)
  • “Yes, of course you can. You just don’t like the consequences of quitting. You’d prefer having an income that pays for your house and car and covers your healthcare.  But certainly we live in a country where you are allowed to quit your job.”  (Perspective)

This person sees the issues concerning them, but is not accepting or influencing to a degree where they can be at their best – they are victims.  I’ve coached numerous people in this situation.  The gap; have they truly done everything they can to influence this situation to make it better or more manageable?  Second, if they have done everything possible (which is seldom the case because their thinking is limited) it is time to quit, or accept the limitations of the situation in exchange for the paycheck and benefits.

I know this sounds harsh.  When our friends explain their unhappy situation we want to comfort them, but agreeing with their victimized thinking doesn’t help them.  Even more challenging is confronting our own thinking.

In my experience many people live with smaller circles of influence than is possible.  Either they are not exerting influence where they could or not influencing effectively.

Unhappy, discontent or disgruntled with a situation?  You might have a ‘gap’ that you might need to close or accept.  You Have Choice!

Your brain loves constructive questions – start asking some!

  1. What are the factors that concern you (good, bad and neutral)?
  2. What are you doing to influence or change the situation?
  3. What aren’t you doing (having tough conversations, owning your behaviors or decision, taking action vs. complaining, etc.)?
  4. What are the consequences of doing something new vs. doing nothing?
  5. If you can’t do anything more, don’t want to exert more effort or don’t want to live with the consequences – then it is time to accept the gap between concern and influence.  Come to peace with it.

When do people change?

When the pain of staying the same becomes greater than the pain of the change!

Good luck! Let me know how it’s going!

One Response to “Circle of Influence, Circle of Concern”

  1. wiebe.glenn@gmail.com January 28, 2013 at 10:24 am #

    Great insight and so true. I believe that we have a greater circle of influence generally than we think we do. We need to learn to appropriately exercise our choice and learn to be intentional about our circumstances and situations. Thanks for offering this and I hope many read and consider what you are saying.

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