Circle of Concern vs. Circle of Control…

“I have seen many storms in my life. Most storms have caught me by surprise, so I had to learn very quickly to look further and understand that I am not capable of controlling the weather, to exercise the art of patience and to respect the fury of nature.” 

Paulo Coelho

Forgive the long post but this topic is something that I am really passionate about… I am a huge fan of Dr. Stephen Covey’s classic “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.” It has been one of the most impactful books that I have read and studied in my life and each of the Habits are incredibly powerful. It is certainly a must read ((In fact, thinking about it now I am due to reread it again soon…) and one that I highly recommend.

One of the things that resonated so much with me the first time I read the book was the concept of the “circle of concern” vs. “circle of control.” Proactive people tend to live a life focused on their “circle of control” while reactive people tend to live a life that is reacting to things outside of their control.

I bring this up in context with this quote because the weather is a great example of “circle of concern.” We can’t control the storms, the sunshine or how the weather changes our plans. But we can control how we react to the weather. We can make decisions to wear different clothes, make different plans, put an umbrella in our car.

This is such a great metaphor for life. If we choose spend our energy focused on reacting to things that are in our “circle of concern” instead of being focused on the things with in our “circle of control” we will always be reacting, always be unhappy, always be unsettled.

It is hard to do at times but I try to run everything impacting my life, and those around me, through this filter and ask myself the following questions.

  • Is this thing/event/circumstance within my circle of concern or circle of control?
  • Circle of Concern:
    • What decisions do I need to make regarding how I will act/react to it?
    • What is within my control that will influence how this impacts me/others?
    • Where can/should I have made different decisions that will/would have impacted the impact on my world/environment?
  • Circle of Control:
    • What can I do to impact this?
    • Where should I invest my effort and energy to make a proactive change?
    • What can I do differently?

Take a look at this picture below. I think it does a tremendous job outlining the difference in how people react to the Circle of Concern vs. the Circle of Control.

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