Growing my Circle of Influence
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  • 18 Apr 2016

It’s almost May and I haven’t written a blog post all year. I’ve had great intentions to which is all very well and good but as the saying goes ‘people will judge you by your actions, not your intentions – after all, you may have a heart of gold but so does a boiled egg’. Funnily enough I have been called an egg before too 😉

Anyway I haven’t written a blog because I’ve been busy – busy doing things and busy worrying about things…SO many things! As a business owner, working mother, wife and friend, I have many roles I fill and sometimes it’s all a bit overwhelming. The past few weeks have been particularly challenging as I have juggled the end of financial year (both leading the team to chase our sales target and getting all the paperwork done for the accountants), with a fair bit of work travel as well as the school holidays…

So, enough. This past week I’ve given myself a bit of a talking to and am reminded of the Circle of Influence model from The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (which we deliver in NZ).

The problems, challenges, and opportunities we face fall into two areas – Circle of Concern and Circle of Influence. Proactive people focus their efforts on their Circle of Influence. They work on the things they can do something about: health, children, problems at work. Reactive people focus their efforts in the Circle of Concern – things over which they have little or no control: the global economy, terrorism, the weather, your competitor’s actions.

As we react, we tend to focus on the Circle of Concern, which depletes our energy, because we have no control over it. The energy focused on the Circle of Concern is negative. If you focus on the Circle of Concern and neglect the Circle of Influence, eventually the Circle of Influence will get smaller. This will add to feelings of stress and helplessness, because you cannot change anything in the Circle of Concern. When you are feeling overwhelmed and chaotic in your life, you are pretty much operating outside of your circle of influence and flailing around inside your circle of concern.

It’s SO easy to get caught up in the Circle of Concern – my competitors have introduced new products, my customers new campaign isn’t what I would have picked, Auckland house prices are insane and traffic is getting worse by the day.

But what can I actually do to influence these things? Nothing. Auckland house prices will continue to rise no matter how much I lie awake at night thinking about it. And the commute for me tomorrow is going to be awful because there’s just too many cars on the road.

So what can I do? Proactive people focus on the Circle of Influence, which is the area we have control over and we can act upon. When we do this, the Circle of Influence gets bigger. When you act on your Circle of Influence you are able to reduce stress levels and increase happiness, because you can initiate and influence change; you can set priorities and make progress. I can worry about things inside my circle of influence – my pricing strategy, how I’m managing my pipeline, how my team are performing, and what activities I have organised for my kids during the holidays.

Gaining an awareness of the areas in which we expend our energies is a giant step towards becoming proactive. Whichever circle you focus on, it’ll grow.

Which one do you want it to be?