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Care About What You Can Influence:

What if you spent a lot of time grumbling and complaining?

That is a lot of wasted time and energy. This time and energy could have been used for other – more constructive – things. What if there is a way with which you can discover what things cost you a lot of time and energy and gives little to nothing in return? What if you can find out how you can take more initiative and, as a result, get more done?

The Circle of Concern

Everything that concerns you is within your Circle of Concerns. This that keep you busy could be getting a promotion at work, your family, the health of the people around you or wars at the other side of the world.

The Circle of Influence

Withing your Circle of Concern is a smaller circle: your Circle of Influence. These are the things that concern you and that you are able to influence. This circle makes it easier to say “not” to other stuff. The precondition is that something can only be in your Circle of Influence if it is also in your Circle of Concern. You cannot influence something which you are not involved in.

The Circle of Influence contains things where you can really make a difference. Where you can bring about change through your actions. The larger your Circle of Influence, the more you can direct your life the way you want.

How to increase your Circle of Influence?

Many people want to direct their lives. They want to have control and influence on how things go, but… This is not always easy or even possible for that matter.

To grow your Circle of Influence you must understand how much initiative you can take. Taking initiative means taking responsibility for making something happen.

By proactive and your Circle of Influence grows. After all, you are taking action, causing you to bring about possible change.

On the other hand, if you act reactively and wait, your proactive ability shrinks and your Circle of Influence shrinks. Reactive people focus on their environment, they do not take responsibility themselves. So this type of people is more engaged in their Circle of Concern.

Being proactive

Proactive people tend to be good at setting priorities (generally speaking). They need to know when they can use their influence and what is a good point to start. They start with the end in mind and therefore think long term. Growth on the long term hinges upon sustainability, like building relationships. There are now ways to cut corners while building a relationship, it takes time, effort and continued energy. You may be able to bring about momentary change by manipulation, but this will not be sustainable. If you really want to have a meaningful impact on the lives of others, you will have to build honest relationships built on trust. If you set a good example, others will follow.

You can solve problems by using one of these three ways of influence:

  • Direct influence:
    It is best to exercise direct influence on problems that have to do with your own behavior. After all, you can change yourself. Your own behavior is within your Circle of Influence.
  • Indirect influence:
    You can use this influence to adjust the behavior of others. This is easier said than done and takes time and energy. It is necessary to have healthy relationships with others. Only in this way can you influence people with integrity and honesty.
  • No influence:
    Finally, there will always be problems that you cannot influence. Think about what happened in the past or possible environmental factors. In these circumstances it is best to focus on what you can control: your own response.

If you know which category your problem falls into, you can solve it with the appropriate means of influence.

Remember that you are responsible for your life. You are responsible for your personal effectiveness. You are responsible for your own happiness. Realizing that you have this responsibility is the first step to a life filled with initiative.

Inspired by

Stephen Covey