Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Circle of Concern vs. Circle of Influence

You're probably familiar with the terms "circle of concern" and "circle of influence," especially if you've read anything by Steven Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.  I've recently been rereading this classic, and I'm discovering that it's one of those books that keeps bringing up new ideas each time it is read.

As you may have guessed, I just finished the chapter on circles of concern and influence.  The basic premise of the chapter is that, yes, we have many concerns, but we need to focus on making positive changes in the areas over which we actually have some control.
  • National rates of childhood obesity, diabetes, and other lifestyle diseases are out of my control.  But I can control what kinds of food I put in my own shopping cart, how I prepare them at home, and the types of activities my own children engage in (like going to the playground instead of watching that extra episode of Whatever Cute Baby Show).
  • Frighteningly altered GMO's (genetically modified organisms), like the breed of corn that is technically a pesticide, not a food (scary!) are not something I can control at will.  Neither can I stop that farmer from spraying some nasty pesticide on his strawberries.  But I can do some research and choose my groceries carefully to avoid as many chemicals and modern non-food substances as possible.
  • That (possibly mythical) floating trash clump the size of Texas in the Pacific ocean?  Yeah, I wish I could go scoop it up, recycle it, save all the poor sweet fish who are suffocating in it, etc., etc., etc.  Not possible.  But I have control over my own household.  Every plastic bottle I recycle (or better yet, avoid by buying in bulk or finding an alternative) is one plastic bottle that's not in a landfill somewhere, strangling a chipmunk, right?  I can't get the whole county to recycle.  But every guest who enters my home and gets directed to the recycling bin instead of the trash when their soda is gone has seen how easy it is to recycle instead of trashing.  Every mom  (or future mom) who sees my kid in a cloth diaper and hears me say, "oh, it's not really that hard" has been influenced.
The list could go on and on.  I think you get the idea, and I'm sure it's something you've thought about too.  It's so easy to get bogged down in all the things I wish I could change about the world.  But it's so incredibly empowering to realize that I have absolute control over the choices I make within my own circle of influence.

I am not responsible for solving the whole world's problems, but I am doing my own part in my own little corner of that world.

Posted at WFMW at We Are That Family


  1. I love the way you said, "it's so incredibly empowering to realize that I have absolute control over the choices I make within my own circle of influence." You are 100% correct, and I've never really thought of it in that way. I guess I should read that book :)

  2. Stacia, I would highly recommend it. It's full of good ideas and ways to change how we think about things.

  3. "Every mom (or future mom) who sees my kid in a cloth diaper and hears me say, "oh, it's not really that hard" has been influenced."
    Yup. :)
    Your post sparked my interest before I was even pregnant. I am definitely planning on going that route... though it seems much to the dismay of friends and family alike. I'm not a crazy hippie mama... It just seems like an easy, environmentally friendly, cost effective, healthier way to live. :) Though I might call you for suggestions or advice when the time gets closer. :)
    I have actually been thinking the past couple of days about this very topic. I have been pretty darn sick the past few days. I spent my time in bed lamenting and fretting over things out side of my control. I can't control how many days, or what time of day I will be sick. I do have control over how productively I spend my time when I am not sick... or how I take care of and fuel my body when I am able to.
    It has been a difficult lesson for me to learn... but I am trying to find peace and contentment in caring for the things within my control, and trusting God to care for the things outside my control.

  4. Valerie, yay for cloth diapering! I'm so glad you're inspired to give it a try! I keep meeting more and more moms who do it, and love it.

    How close are you to your 2nd trimester? I hope you start feeling better soon, and continue to have peace during these challenging weeks.


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