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Circle of Influence and Circle of Concern

Todays guest blogger is Simone Fontanesi. He can be located :
(A Feeling of Symmetry – Powerful ideas to live a life true to yourself). Simone has social channels on Facebook (A Feeling of Symmetry | Facebook), Instagram (A Feeling of Symmetry (@afeelingofsymmetry) • Instagram photos and videos), Twitter (A Feeling of Symmetry (@FeelingSymmetry) / Twitter)

His blog today is Circle of Influence and Circle of Concern relates to you being truthful to your self and opening up your heart to provide love. There is always good in everything that happens to you. Sometimes it is hard to find but find it you will if you look. Enjoy the read. Stephen.

Circle of Influence and Circle of Concern

Have you ever wondered why some people are more effective than others? Or why someone worries so much, while another one is not stressed out despite having bigger responsibilities?

Ultimately, this has to do with the concept of the Circle of Influence and the Circle of Concern, introduced by Stephen Covey in his books The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (Preview & buy eBook here | Buy paper book here) and First Things First (Preview & buy eBook here | Buy paper book here).

Let’s find out what these circles are and how you can use this idea to become more effective and have a greater impact in your personal and professional life.


The circle of influence includes everything you have a direct or indirect control on. Depending on the actions you make or choices you take, other people and things are affected. You can influence what’s inside the circle if you do something about it. On the contrary, you do not have control over what is outside your circle of influence (e.g., the weather on the weekend, the delay of the train you are waiting for, the outcome of your favorite football team match…).

The circle of concern, instead, contains all the things that directly or indirectly concerns you, which means, you worry about or at least think about.

Everyone of us has his own circle of influence and circle of concern, but depending on your attitude, you are either more focused on one or the other (more about it in the next section). Typically, the circle of concern is bigger of the circle of influence, and the circle of influence is included inside the first.

The Circle of Influence and the Circle of Concern

Only in very few cases the circle of influence is bigger than the circle of concerns. This happens in the remote case you are extremely powerful, but at the same time you do not care at all (e.g., you are the US president….).

Ideally, the circle of concern is equal to the circle of influence: in this case you care exactly for the things that you can steer, directly or indirectly. To be happier and more effective your goal is to make the two circles the same size.


Proactive people focus their energy on their circle of influence, because they know that by concentrating on the things inside this circle they can have the greatest impact. By doing so, with the time, they can expand their circle of influence. For example, if you proactively do a good job at work and for that you are getting promoted, you will gain authority in the company, receive more important tasks and eventually even lead a whole team or organization: your circle of influence increases.

On the other hand, reactive people often have a greater circle of concern. Indeed, they spend their energy focusing on external circumstances, blaming others’ behaviors, the environment, and uncontrollable events. They get pressed by their concerns and by doing so they neglect those areas they could do something about. For example, if you are continuously complaining at work about others, hardly you’ll build good connections with colleagues and in the long term this may affect the support you get from them, or the feedback they give to your manager. By doing so, you do not influence others nor get promoted: your circle of influence shrinks.


How can you increase the size of your circle of influence and become more proactive?

First of all, you need to aknowledge that every problem you face in your life falls into one of these categories:

  • Direct control
  • Indirect control
  • No control

Direct control problems, are those problems that you can directly address yourself. They are in your circle of influence and it is up to you to take care of them.

Indirect control problems, are those problems that involve other people. You can solve these problems by influencing others’ behavior.

No control problems are those problems you cannot do anything about, like changing your past or the weather. In these cases you should accept the situation as it is, go with the flow and don’t let the problem control you.

Once you have clearly defined the areas where you can have a influence, be willing to actively change the current situation. Take the first step and do what you plan to do without fear. Don’t let the risk or second thoughts stop you.


Think about the things that occupy most of your thoughts and conversations topics. Now draw the circle of influence and the circle of concern, side by side, and write these things inside each of them.

  • Which circle is bigger?
  • What could you do to increase the size of your circle of influence?
  • What could you do to decrease the size of your circle of concern?

If you want a short mantra to repeat to yourself whenever you are facing a new challenge and you are not sure if the problem at hand is of direct, indirect or no control type, have a look at the Serenity, Courage, Wisdom blog post. Additionally, stoicism philosophy could also be of great help to know when it is time to take action, and when it is time to let go (see The Stoic Happiness Triangle).


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