Circle of Influence and Circle of Concern
I am reminded this morning of Stephen Covey’s ‘Circle of Concern/Circle of Influence.’ I first encountered this teaching as an egg-in-the-frying pan drawing in his life-changing book: THE SEVEN HABITS OF HIGHLY EFFECTIVE PEOPLE. It’s a simple concept. The yolk is our circle of influence (or control)—all the things in our life over which we exercise some degree of choice: what we read, what we say, what we buy, where we go, what organizations we give our time to. The yolk is contained within the larger circle of the egg white is our circle of concern: all the things we care about but are beyond our control: the weather, wars and terrorism, the political views of others, what people think of us.
Covey’s simple assertion is that whichever part of the circle we spend time in will grow. If we spend most of our time worrying about things we cannot control, the white grows larger and the yolk smaller. When we spend time focusing on the things that we can actually do something about, the yolk, the area over which we have influence, becomes larger.
We would do well to continue to be concerned about things we have no direct control over (e.g. the disastrous ‘health-care reform’ bill that would eliminate access to health insurance to millions while giving a tax break to the wealthy), but to spend more time focused on what we can do, today and in the weeks to come.
If you are concerned about health-care, what can you actually do today? Maybe take care of your health so you can be available to march in the streets or call your representative in Washington or write a letter to the editor of your local paper. Maybe learn more about local health care for low-income people in your area. Maybe appreciate the fragility of life in all the tender beings you encounter throughout the day.
Whatever it is, I would challenge us all to live today as an expression of what we love rather than what we fear.