“Being challenged in life is inevitable, being defeated is optional.” The quote from the Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Eric Bates best describes human life and its challenges. As a person treads on the different phases of their life, there are bound to be challenges and things that they cannot control. So, what should they do? Ponder over things that they cannot control or do something about the things they can? In the book titled 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (1989), Stephen Covey shared the idea that human actions can be divided into three distinct categories or circles – the circle of concern, influence, and control. Let’s dig into these concepts and find which one to adapt for a better life.
Circle of Concern
Imagine being worried about the effect of the pandemic. Or imagine being concerned with the economy of the country or the political and social changes going around. What do these things have in common?
These are larger-than-life scenarios that a person has no control over. In the general sense of things, a man is a very small part of the society he resides in. It's often impossible and improbable to dictate or control every affair in the society or the country or even the global happenings. Yet these are things that might concern a person.
And this is precisely what the circle of concern deals with. A person cannot control or influence when it will rain or when it will be sunny. But it is something he or she is worried about and takes appropriate measures like taking an umbrella out. The circle of concern outlines these very things that are beyond the control of man but concerns them regardless.
Circle of Influence
While the circle of concern deals with things that are beyond a man, the circle of influence is a bit more intricate. It is also the macro aspect of the circle of control which will be discussed in the latter part of the article.
The circle of influence is something that a person has minimal control over. These are not the things that s/he is just concerned about. Instead, the individual can do something to make a positive impact.
Imagine a person is concerned about climate change and its impact. What can he or she do about it? It is not exactly out of their influence as humans are the prime reasons behind climate change. As a concerned citizen, he or she can take individual measures to reduce the impact of climate change and influence others. The direct and indirect action in this regard makes up the circle of influence. This may be a very small step in the grand scheme of things, but it is something that a person can do to play his/her part.
The circle of influence essentially lets a person do something about things that concerns you. Rather than simply complaining and whining, the influence lets someone make the most out of their situational capacity.
Circle of Control
The circle of control is probably the smallest of the three. Beyond the scopes of the circle of concern and influence, the circle of control is something that is completely under the control and choice of an individual. While a person cannot do much about the world economy or stuff like climate change, the circle of control treads on aspects that are solely dependent on personal choice.