Circle of Influence or Circle of Concern?


Chief Sam DiGiovanna

Circle of Influence or Circle of Concern?

I have been Blessed to work with Dr. David Black, CEO of Cordico and the phenomenal team he has built. He is an incredible psychologist and someone I consider a friend. I learn so much working with him. When I speak with him, along with other talented individuals such as Gordon Graham of Lexipol, I walk away feeling empowered, like a sense of receiving a “mini – degree” in life. I wish I could have that kind of influential power!

Speaking of influence, I wanted to share the below with you.

In a recent webinar, Dr. Black discussed the “Circle of Influence and Circle of Concern.” You may have heard of it; I remember reading it years ago in the book Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey.

Draw two circles on a piece of paper. In each circle start writing these two influences:

Your Circle of Concern. These are things in life that you are concerned/worried/consumed about. Examples: personal or family safety and health, money, work, economy, injustices of the world, people, the future etc.–anything that overly concerns you is your circle of concern.

Your Circle of Influence. Though still part of your circle of concern, these are circumstances or events that you have influence over and can do something about them. Look at this as your “personal power” circle in which we all have. Write these in the other circle.

It will not take long to see which circle fills up first. For most, the circle of concern fills up much faster than the circle of influence. This means we are focused more on things that are out of our control. The result is anxiety, stress, sleeplessness, hopelessness, anger, jealousy, etc. These things cause more harm internally and externally in our lives. There is no personal power in them!

Like most things in life, we tend to follow the path of least resistance. After all, it is easier to be a victim and blame our circumstances and the people in our lives, rather than putting in the effort and change the way we think and empower our mind. The pattern of negative thinking develops early in our life and becomes somewhat of a “tattoo” etched in our mind and in our day-to-day thoughts.

You’ve Got the Power!

It is important to focus on our circle of influence to perform and function positively in our personal and professional lives. These are areas where we can make change for the better. It is about becoming aware of our old way of thinking and choosing different thoughts. Just as easy as choosing chocolate or vanilla ice cream. You choose the flavor you like. It is that simple – choice! Then why are our choices in life predominately negative ones? It is a way of thinking that we have adopted in our mind over years. We think it is normal, but it is abnormal!

By focusing on things that contribute to your growth and success (circle of influence), will help you become who you want to be and bring a happier & fulfilled life. By practicing this choice, watch how you become more positive and influential in your life. This will change your attitude from reactive to a proactive behavior.

It is important to develop and maintain a positive outlook. Always keep your circle of influence larger than your circle of concern. When your circle of concern becomes larger than your circle of influence, life becomes full of anxiety and stress. You lose your personal power. Once this takes over, we reach for self-destructive or harmful coping mechanisms to deal with our circle of concerns.

One of the best ways to incorporate the Circle of Influence in your life is to know and always remember that you deserve so much more and then promise yourself to never stop at becoming your best self. Understanding you have the power to choose your response to any issue, while not blaming life’s circumstances, people or events is a practice you can put in to place right now.

Now lets me ask you this, chocolate or vanilla? The choice is up to you. Choose wisely!

About Chief Sam DiGiovanna

Sam DiGiovanna is a 33-year fire service veteran. He started with the Los Angeles County Fire Department, served as fire chief at the Monrovia Fire Department and currently serves as chief at the Verdugo Fire Academy in Glendale, Calif.