Steven Covey popularized the concept of a “Circle of Concern” (things we worry about) and a “Circle of Influence” (things we have some power over). Some people also recognize a “Circle of Control”—areas where we hold nearly all the power.
And many people fight their Circle of Concern, abdicate their Circle of Control, and neglect their Circle of Influence. They feel powerless because they misunderstand the nature of each circle.
Circle of Concern includes:
Circle of Control includes:
And the Circle of Influence? Well, it includes:
... Plus, the attitudes and values others “catch” from us. We can’t “control” what others do, but we can set an example that will make them more likely to agree with us.
The people in your Circle of Influence may include:
This includes your own children; their friends; any children you supervise; friends’ and relatives’ children; and kids encountered in public. Whether or not they look to you for direct guidance, the behavior children see in you will influence their view of the world.
While making allowances for less developed levels of understanding, show children the same politeness and respect you give adults. Don’t bark orders at kids; don’t brush off their opinions and suggestions; don’t expect them to read your mind. And address “please be a little quieter in public” requests to them, not their parents.
Employees and Coworkers
Even when supervising adults, it can be tempting to take a “because I said so” attitude. If you can’t be bothered to do your share of listening, your influence will likely be limited to keeping things running smoothly in a rut. Companies that make real progress are open to input from everybody—and they make everybody feel part of a team, working toward a shared vision.
If you aren’t “in charge,” you can still influence bosses and peers (and, through them, the larger company) by showing everyone respect and empathy, and by refusing to join the dark side of office politics.
Our friends are especially influenced by our attitudes of the day—negative or positive, cheerful or surly. Make a point of exercising “attitude influence” in the right direction.
Most relatives have known us for decades and developed habitual patterns of relating to us. If you don’t like those patterns, take responsibility for changing them: be mature, be responsible, and consider the other party’s point of view. As your behavior changes, so will others’ attitudes toward you—and their responsiveness to your influence.
Even a ninety-second exchange with the drive-through clerk brings another person into your circle of influence—and presents an opportunity to add to the world’s positive energy. However they act toward you, leave a smile and a friendly word with everyone you meet.
The power of prayer is real. Don’t become obsessed with technique. Just pray regularly in whatever form suits you, and your influence will affect even your larger Circle of Concern!