Posted by: magnussonllc | August 18, 2009

Improve Your Circle of Influence and Become more Effective

In his international best-seller “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”, Stephen Covey made a distinction between proactive people and reactive people. Proactive and reactive people often have the same concerns, but those who are proactive focus on what they can do, on what they can influence. By contrast, reactive people focus their mental, emotional and physical energy on things beyond their control. They maintain an attitude of victimization and blame. 

Covey uses a model to illustrate the difference between what concerns us and what we can truly influence.  First, imagine a circle that contains ALL the things you care about. Inside of it, imagine a circle that contains ALL the things you can affect (do something about):CircleofInfluence2.emfThe circles offer a guide for regarding where to focus your time and energy.  If you focus your efforts on issues outside your “circle of influence”, your capacity for influence will diminish because you are wasting your time and energy on something over which you have no influence. It is tempting to focus our energy (particularly our mental energy in the form of worry, frustration, irritation and complaining) on those things that are in our “circle of concern”. However, if we don’t have influence over them, that energy is lost forever and cannot be used to change areas of over which we do have influence. It can also make us blind to the areas of which we truly can affect a change – the items that are in our “circle of influence”.

If you focus your energy on issues that are within your “circle of influence”, you will increase your capacity for influence: the more influence you effectively exercise, the more influence you will have. Influence begets influence. This is the core of personal effectiveness. Knowing how far your “circle of influence” extends is an important aspect of personal effectiveness.CircleofInfluence1.emfSometimes you cannot have any direct influence over an issue in your “circle of concern”, but you can create change by forming alliances with others. For example, if you were passionate about the environment, world hunger, a specific political issue, etc., you would have considerably more influence if you were to join with others whom were organized to make an impact on the same issue.

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