Have you ever had a conversation with somebody or had a thought in your head that started out with, “Great! It had to rain again, now my day is ruined.”? How about, “If only I had people in my life that stopped putting themselves first, then I ‘wouldn’t have to be second all the time!”?
If so, then reasonably this would be an excellent post for you to read to the end.
In the book called, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey explains his concept of the Circle of Concern and the Circle of Influence.
The Circle of Concern is a circle that holds everything a person can possibly worry about in life. The Circle of Influence is a smaller circle that is inside the Circle of Concern that contains the items that a person can do something about.
Depending on if you are a reactive person or a proactive person determines what circle you spend most of your time in.
Reactive vs Proactive
Reactive people spend most of their time worrying about items in the Circle of Concern where they ‘can’t do anything about the issues that reside there. This circle is filled with “have.” For example, “If I only had a boss who ‘wasn’t a jerk, then I could succeed” or “If they would just stop talking about me about me behind my back, then I could have a better time at school.”
Proactive people mostly stay within the Circle of Influence where they can make a difference by worrying about the things that they can actually worry about. They live in the land of “Be’s.” “I can be more positive.” “I can be in better shape because I will work out more.” “I will be happier because I don’t care what they say behind my back.”
Another way to look at this theory is remembering the saying, “It’s not your business.” If it’s not in your Circle of Influence, it’s not your business, so don’t burn the energy worrying about things that are out of your control.
Here’s an example I came across last week. I read a tweet by somebody that said something along the lines of, “I got a rejection notice from a publisher. I’m sad, cheer me up!”. This person is obviously reactive to the publisher’s letter. Sure, I agree, it does suck, but it’s out of their control on how the publisher feels. Requesting others to cheer them up is also a reactive action.
For a proactive person, this could go something like this. “I just got a rejection letter from a publisher. It sucks, but ‘it’s their loss. I will have to submit it to another one! Now, I will go cheer myself up!”
Below is an example of the Circle of Concern vs the Circle of Influence. The Circle is in yellow, and are the things you can deal with. The red circle is the Circle of Concern. Things you can only worry about, so you should try to do just that.
The more you practice dealing with the items just inside the Circle of Influence, it actually grows, making the Circle of Concern much smaller.
Now, does this concept really work? I would have to say that it does. Try it out for yourself. The next time somebody gives you a dirty look, blows their horn at your for no reason, start to worry what somebody is going to think of your new pair of shoes, or send you a rejection letter, ask yourself, can I change what the way they think or act? If the answer is no, then ‘don’t worry about it.