Derek Sivers

Entrepreneur, programmer, avid student of life. I make useful things, and share what I learn.

Circle of influence - Circle of concern

“You can either be proactive or reactive when it comes to how you respond to certain things. When you are reactive, you blame other people and circumstances for obstacles or problems. Being proactive means taking responsibility for every aspect of your life.”

Steven Cravis made a comment on this blog saying, “We can’t do anything about things beyond our control so we might as well keep on focusing energy forward on the next thing we can create.”

It reminded me of a good metaphor from The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People (click that link to read the Wikipedia summary - the book itself is quite tedious).

The author says to imagine a circle that contains ALL the things you care about:
circle of concern

Inside of it, imagine a circle that contains ALL the things you can affect (do something about):
circle of influence

Your goal is to either expand your ability to do something about the things you care about...
expand circle of influence
... or shrink your circle of concern (stop caring about some things) so that you don't care too much about things you can't do anything about.

It's an interesting metaphor I've thought of often, though usually for his final comment at the end of the section. I don't have the book here but it was something like:

“Some dangerous individuals' circle of influence is actually bigger than their circle of concern. They are affecting more than they care about, often unintentionally hurting others in their path.”

I've felt like that a lot over the last 6 years. I employ 85 people at CD Baby. I've never even met half of them. Clients I don't know get hurt because I never replied to an email I never saw. I started hiring the services of a small company, then changed plans, and found out that my change-of-plans sent them into default on a bank loan, practically destroying their company. Etc.

I'm dangerous. I'm trying to be more cautious. I really do think of everything from the other person's point of view, but man it's hard to take every affected person into consideration for every decision.

Bull in china shop