The resilience coach's toolbox part 1

Posted on 8th June 2020

The circle of concern / circle of influence.



 

I love sharing this tool when I'm coaching and wanted to share it for anyone that hasn't come across it before.  In his book 'The 7 habits of highly effective people', Stephen Covey talks about the difference between proactive and reactive people.  He says that in order to measure whether we are reactive or proactive, we should look at where we focus our time and energy.  One of the ways to do this is to use his circle of control / circle of influence tool.


Circle of concern


There are many things that we worry and think about every day.  Many of these we can't do anything about, such as the global pandemic situation, the national debt or the threat of nuclear war.  These things are of concern, but when we worry about them constantly we use up our valuable energy reserves.  Sometimes we can't let go of these worries, however it is possible to care about these issues and yet not worry away at them.


Circle of influence


There are many things in our lives, however, that we do have some level of control or influence over.  Stephen Covey refers to this subset of concerns the circle of influence.  When I use this tool with my coaching clients, I subdivide this circle into things we can have some influence over and things that we can directly control. 

The circles of influence and control tell us where we can invest our energy and take action most effectively. For example, you would want to invest more energy into situations where you have the most control, such as your own behaviour, compared to situations where you have less control, such as other peoples behaviour.  When you use your energy appropriately to tackle these issues, it is highly motivating and can even be energising.  


The car park


Once you've taken action to deal with anything that you can directly control or influence, what do you do with the rest of your concerns?  I've found that it can be useful to create for yourself a virtual car park.  Some clients find it useful to create one on paper or electonically, others create an imaginary one.  You can then park all of your concerns here.  This takes these worries away from being front and centre, because you give yourself permission to park them for a while.  You can also make a date with yoruself to check in with these concerns and check that none of them have become things that you can influence or control.

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