How to focus on what you can control & influence.

Steven Covey speaks clearly about the circle of concern, control and influence in his best seller 7 Habits of Highly Successful People.

I first came across this topic when I was training in Participatory Leadership in my home city of Cork.

At the time I didn’t see its significance, it was just another tool I was meant to use personally, demonstrate in a classroom setting and be able to explain professionally.

It has been one of my most used tools in executive and business coaching to date, alongside his time management grid that is!

I have found this most helpful when discussing people and situations, it has its most impact when someone needs clarity and to take effective action, rather than anxiety induced action.

Covey simplifies the circle of concern, control and influence so that it can be adapted easily for life and work.

Let’s start with the circle of concern, this circle represents everything that worries you, bothers you and plays on your mind.

Then the circle of influence, this is the element of your concerns that you can influence by how you behave or what you say but that is not directly within your control.

Some examples may be wanting family members to do something, trying to get a stakeholder to understand another point of view or for your partner to apply for that job.

You can impact each area through expressing your needs and preferences however you need others to cooperate for any change to occur. Ultimately they make their own choices, so really all you can do is attempt to influence the situation. Whereas trying to control it could wear you out or build resentment. Not to mention damage relationships and leave you disappointed.

The circle of control involves anything that you have power over such as your choices, your actions, your approaches and your responses. How you do things is 100% in your control, how others do things, is either in your circle of influence or not. That you need to figure out in each situation.

Start by writing all concerns in a big circle to the left of an A4 sheet.

Then on the right side of the sheet beside that have a big circle marked a circle of influence and inside in that a circle of control. Decide where your concerns lie, outside of your influence, within your influence or within your control?

Place every concern into a category, outside of the circles is no influence, inside the outer circle is the influence and the middle circle is control.

Notice what is in your control and start by asking yourself, how can I work with what is in my control more effectively?

Look at what is in your circle of influence and decide how you will influence without losing your energy trying to control.

Lastly, look at what is outside your control and influence, let it go.