In 1989 Stephen Covey published his successful book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. In this book he introduced the concepts of ‘circles of concern and influence’, using a diagram similar to that below. Covey’s premise was that we spend a lot of time and energy focusing on things that concern us but we have no influence over. For example, you might be concerned about world peace or climate change, but your opportunities to influence either are very small.
Covey states that we should focus our efforts within our circle of influence and ignore everything else. He further states that highly effective people have a large circle of influence.
This concept can be expanded by introducing another circle in the middle, called the circle of control. This is shown in the diagram below.
This now becomes a useful model we can use in our businesses to help improve focus.
Firstly, list all the things that you spend time thinking and worrying about. Now, place the items that are in your direct control in the inner circle. This circle of control should contain all your immediate goals. It can be very frustrating trying to achieve goals when you do not directly control the outcomes and this can be very demoralising.
Next, place all the things that you have no direct control over, within your circle of influence. Your next goals should be to try and move as many of these into your circle of control.
You should also aim to increase your circle of influence to take in some of the areas you are currently concerned about. Take care here though, because bigger is not always better. If your circle of influence is too large you will find yourself losing focus again because you are not spending enough time on the things in your circle of control.
There are many other models that focus but this one if simple and easily applied. Let me know if you have used it before and to what effect, I’m always interested to get feedback.