Great books gift us with frameworks that give us ways to make sense of the world. Stephen Covey’s book, the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, attained legendary status because he managed to weave in a collection of great frameworks to help us think about productivity and life.
Great frameworks are beautiful in their simplicity. And, there are few simpler than the idea that we all have a circle of influence and a circle of concern. The circle of influence is simply a collection of everything we influence (e.g. our response to situations) vs. the circle of concern which is a collection of everything we don’t influence. And, the way of those who are proactive is to spend time within their circle of influence.
I’ve found an interesting truth in dealing with the circle of influence idea – the more time you spend within it, the more it expands. And, the more it expands, the more you realize that you can have a go at most problems you care about by just focusing on what you can do about them. You also realize very quickly as to where your effort is best spent depending on how much of the action feels within your control.
This is what the smartest people and companies do. As a growing company, for instance, there are many many things outside your control – competition and regulation are two simple examples. It can get overwhelming thinking about all the things you don’t control. So, focus fully on what you control. It is similar in our personal lives – there’s no point focusing on all the external stimuli that make up our day. It has to start with us – our actions and our responses.
Simple idea. Powerful implications.